Stowaway Rat Delays Air India Flight By 12 Hours

An Air India flight from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam on Sunday 10th November was delayed by some 12 hours due to having an unwelcome guest on board. A rat was spotted on the aircraft, leading to an elaborate game of cat and mouse until the critter could be caught.

Air India Rat
Air India kept cheesed off passengers waiting for 12 hours. Photos: Pixabay/Simple Flying

Air India smelled a rat

Airlines do not like stowaways. Whether they are deliberately trying to hitch a free ride or just didn’t disembark in time, it’s not good practice to take passengers anywhere if they aren’t on the manifest. As such, an Air India flight was reluctant to take off when it became clear they had an extra passenger on board. The problem was, the passenger was equally reluctant to get off.

The elusive hitchhiker on board an early morning flight from Hyderabad to Visakhapatnam was a rat. Not in the sense that he was telling tales on Air India; rather that he was actually a rat. Small, furry, sharp teeth… you know the sort.

A rat was trying to sneak a free flight. Photo: Needpix

According to the Times of India, the rogue rodent was spotted “prancing around the aircraft, just before take off”. As the flight couldn’t leave with the non-paying passenger on board, the human occupants were asked to disembark and return to the terminal at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport until the situation could be resolved.

The Airbus A321 operating flight AI-952 welcomed pest control on board to relive it of the naughty critter

Hide and squeak

What began as an amusing game of cat and mouse soon escalated into a serious concern for the passengers hoping to travel on the flight. Having arrived early for a 6am flight, its unsurprising that people were starting to get a bit ratty as the delay pressed on.

By lunchtime, most of the passengers were thoroughly cheesed off, taking to social media to vent their frustrations.

Rat’s all folks

Finally, the elusive critter was caught by the airline, but the aircraft required fumigation prior to departure. As a representative of Air India told the Deccan Chronicle,

“The rat was located and trapped. Then the aircraft was fumigated. The team searched for any possible damage made by the rat. Only after these things were done was the clearance given for the aircraft to fly again.”

Air India A321
The rat-free A321 finally took off at around 17:30. Photo: Sachin Gnath via Wikimedia

Although a rodent may seem like a bizarre reason to ground a flight for such a long time, these furry hitchhikers could cause all manner of problems with avionics if they decide to take a nibble on some wiring. It’s a relatively common problem too, with Alaska Airlines, Air Berlin and Air Canada all previously reported to have experienced rodent related delays.

With Air India looking for a buyer to secure the future of the indebted airline, perhaps would-be investors should think of hiring a few cats as cabin crew to keep flights operating on time.