Ants Invade Trans-Atlantic Flight Bound for New Jersey

By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter

June 18, 2019

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A trans-Atlantic United Flight bound for Newark, New Jersey from Venice, Italy, was reportedly carrying a few extra creepy-crawly passengers who had stowed away on the flight. The United flight had become infested with ants, and the entire situation was documented in a series of tweets by a New York-based art editor named Charlotte Burns.

Burns begins her tale by causally tweeting that a "large, fat ant" had just walked over the pillow she was using for her flight home. She writes she wasn't believed by the flight attendant at first when she attempted to warn the cabin crew about the six-legged stowaways who were crawling all over the plane.

Burns says she attemped to forget about the ants and just read her book - which worked for a few minutes until she saw another ant crawling along the pillow. As she reported the ants to the flight-attendant, she saw the woman notice an ant crawling along the top of the seat in front.

"The nice lady is talking to me and pouring a drink when she shudders: she's seen an ant, marching across the top of the seat in front. She calls her senior colleague. This is becoming *disruptive* (and in the old-fashioned way before tech people co-opted the term)," Burns tweeted.

The flight attendant went to report the infestation to her supervisor, who asked Burns if the crew could try and address the ants after they completed the meal service. Another passenger chimed in, saying he had spotted a "parade" of six ants in the overhead bin in front of her.

Another flight attendant tried getting rid of the troublesome bugs, using a flashlight and a wet cloth, a solution that Burns appeared to be less than enthused with. The crewmember wiped Burns' seat cushions, but reported seeing yet another ant crawling along the window well.

At one point, the crew found the ants coming out of a passenger's luggage that had been stored in the bin. The passenger had to wake up and

Burns notes the passenger is wearing a Spider-Man sleep mask, "Guy wakes up – and he's wearing a SPIDERMAN eyemask, by the way, because @UnitedAirlines has obviously got some merch deal – and says very calmly for a guy who just got woken up about an ant infestation 'Ah yes, I saw one earlier.' "

Meanwhile, another flight attendant returns to inspect the overhead bin to see if he could find the source of the ants.

"The cabin guy does the flashlight thing again in the overhead locker and says, I can't see anything," Burns continues. "Me and middle aisle guy say please take the bags out and check beneath. He does. ANTS! Ants lie beneath. The guy in front pulls down his case (which btw isn't zipped shut, as middle aisle guy notes to me in an aside) and ants ants ants spill out, running in every which direction. This is absolutely heeby-jeeby-goose-bumpy-get-me-a-gin-gross."

The owner of the ant-infested bag continued to wander the aisles, staying well-away from his seat and quarantined bag.

In a statement, United Airlines confirmed the incident on the flight from Venice to New Jersey.

“We are concerned by the experience our customer reported on United flight 169 from Venice to Newark. We have been in contact with the crew and they have advised the ants have been isolated from a customer’s bag,” the airline told the Asbury Park Press. “At this time, the aircraft will continue to its final destination. We will be taking the aircraft out of service when it arrives in Newark.”

By the time Charlotte got home, she'd decided it was time to disinfect her bags, using a Zapp Bug Oven, which she had from a previous experience with bed bugs.

Photo: Getty Images

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