Tarantulas let loose on Air Transat flight

TORONTO – Two stowaways – with multiple legs and beady little eyes – found their way onto an Air Transat flight, causing mass hysteria among passengers.

According to the CBC, two tarantulas were spotted on a Montreal-bound flight from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on April 18. After being spotted loose in the cabin, passengers screamed and stood on their seats while flight attendants instructed them to cover their legs and put on their shoes.

The incident was first reported to Radio-Canada by a passenger who wished to remain anonymous, and was later confirmed by the airline.

Julie Roberts, vice-president of Air Transat’s flight attendant union, said that First Aid was given to the passenger who claimed that a spider climbed his legs.

The hairy critters were discovered towards the end of the flight and reportedly ranged from 10 to 20 centimetres in diameter. One of the spiders was captured by a passenger while the other continued to roam the aircraft before being recovered by a federal agent after landing at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport.

According to Etienne Normandin, an entomologist at the Université de Montréal, the tarantulas were likely a species called Phormictopus cancerides, a common variety in the D.R. and Haiti whose venom is not particularly strong. The spiders may have been hidden in a passenger’s luggage for resale purposes, though this has not been confirmed.