A jetliner flying from India to Newark, New York, had to abandon the flight when a live bat made its presence felt flying over passengers’ heads shortly after take-off.
According to reports, the nocturnal creature flapped around the business class section of the plane, alarming passengers around 30 minutes into the 16-hour flight.
The incident occurred on an Air India flight from New Delhi last week, the New York Post reports. Airline officials made the decision to turn the flight around and return to New Delhi to deplane the stowaway.
The plane circled for over two hours before it landed back at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.
According to the New York Post, the plane was met by wildlife staff who retrieved the bat’s carcass.
The aircraft then underwent a deep clean and complete fumigation.
The passengers were boarded on another plane and Air India flight AI-105 later landed in Newark without incident or further wildlife stowaways discovered aboard.
An official for Air India reportedly speculated that the bat may have entered the aircraft when it was being loaded with in-flight catering.
Airline officials told local media it’s not uncommon for flying and scurrying animals to be attracted to the food as it’s being loaded onto the plane and then find themselves trapped inside among the less-than-delighted passengers.
Flights between India and the US are currently restricted to US citizens, as well as permanent US residents and their family members. Some non-US citizens, including students, are also permitted.