The Air Transat flight from Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic, to Montreal, Canada had an unexpected turnout when two tarantulas escaped from a passenger’s bag, causing panic amongst passengers.
Passengers were standing on their seats while flight attendants advised them to cover their ankles.
“I was wearing a skirt and a spider crawled up my leg,” Catherine Moreau of Québec told Radio-Canada. “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.”
The passenger said that the flight attendants could not assist any further, although they did everything they could, as they were also extremely panicky.
“They gave first aid to the person who said that a spider climbed his legs,” said Julie Roberts, vice president of Air Transat’s flight attendant union.
One of the spiders was caught towards the end of the flight and the other following landing.
Entomologist Étienne Normandin told Radio-Canada that the spiders were Phormictopus Cancerides, a species that can be easily found at the Dominican Republic.
The expert said those kind of spiders are considered aggressive, but their venom is not very powerful.
“It’s a species that is often sold,” he said.
A spokesperson on behalf of the Air Transat said that it was an “extraordinary and isolated event.”
“Passengers who have seen the spiders [we have no confirmation of the species] were certainly surprised, but according to our flight report, they reacted calmly.”