Two Hispaniolan Giant Tarantula spiders were found roaming in the passage of a Canada-bound Air Transat flight, from Punta Cana, Dominican republic on 18 April.
Thankfully, Samuel L. Jackson’s (“Snakes on a Plane”) services weren’t required as no one was harmed. One of the spiders did crawl up a lady’s leg though to the horror of her husband and child, reports The Guardian, via ICI Radio-Canada.ca.
“I was wearing a skirt and a spider crawled up my leg. It was during the meal. My husband managed to catch the spider in a plastic container, but it wriggled its legs out. My daughter was crying, she was in shock.” Catherine Moreau of Québec said.
Even the flight attendants were terrified and did not want to come near the spiders.
“I brushed [it] away and it started tickling me again. That’s when I noticed the tarantula,” Moreau told CBC News.
She was given first aid for three scratches the spider had given her lovingly, though it did not bite her.
“I hit it to get it off me before it bit,” Moreau said.
The spider then hid under her daughter’s luggage. Moreau’s husband trapped it in tupperware and asked for a bag from the cabin crew to put it in, mentions The Daily Mail.
One of the spiders was captured during the flight, as Moreau mentions. The other continued to happily roam about and was trapped by a federal agent once the plane landed in Montreal’s Trudeau Airport.
“It took a long time from when we screamed to get a bag to put it in,” Moreau said.
One can only imagine their horror. Straight out a Hollywood movie, only with no casualties or absurd sub-plots.
Afraid of being bitten, most passengers stood up on their seats, looking at the passages below for signs of the eight legged dynamic duo. According to the union that represents Air Transat flight attendants, the flight crew asked the passengers to calm down, cover their ankles and keep their shoes on.
Tarantulas are one of the most venomous arachnids on the planet. This particular species was likely the Phormictopus Cancerides, which is native to the Dominican Republic, and locally called Cacata.
The fangs of the spider can grow to 2 cm or more. Their bite though not harmful to humans, can cause swelling and irritation. Due to their attractive coloration they are very popular as exotic pets.
The passenger from whose bags the Tarantulas escaped was probably smuggling them to sell them for a big sum.
“In the case at hand, which is an unusual and isolated event, our staff reacted promptly and efficiently.” Air Transat spokeswoman Debbie Cabana wrote in an email.
Julie Roberts, vice-president of Air Transat’s flight attendant union, said there were no procedures in place to handle spiders but they will be prepared for such incidents in the future.