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 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.
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.
Hey @AAI_Official plz throughout this @airindiain from it’s operations. #AI952 which was supposed to depart from #Hyderabad to #Visakhapatnam at 0610hrs is delayed to 1500hrs 🤷🏻♂️
They are unable to manage alternate flight also for the passengers.
— Naren (@Narens_tweet) November 10, 2019
@DGCAIndia Rat menace delays flight AI452 by more than 08 hrs 15 minutes. Rat spotted on inbound flight from Dubai to Hyderabad i.e. AI952, same flight flies to Vizag with number AI452 VZG-DEL. Lot of passengers missed inter connecting flight. Boarding still not commenced. pic.twitter.com/9qyN6wWpd5
— sunny (@Duggal1985Vd) November 10, 2019
@airindiain @HardeepSPuri it is time that air India is dissolved. Worst airline. Our employee traveling on AI452 from Vizag to Mumbai is told that the flight will start 12,hours late. He will miss his international flight due to this
— Santosh Phenany (@11feb1977) November 10, 2019
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.”
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.