An Air India flight to Newark, New York was forced to return to Delhi after a live bat caused panic when it started flying through the passenger cabin according to local media reports and video posted to social media.
Air India flight AI105 departed Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 2:30 am on Thursday but the bat was spotted just a short time after takeoff, flight data provided by Flightradar24 reveals.
According to sources cited by the Economic Times, the bat was first spotted in the eighth row and the pilots were then informed. After a discussion with air traffic control, the Boeing 777 aircraft was forced into a holding pattern over an unpopulated area in order to jettison fuel so that it could safely return to Dehli airport.
The aircraft landed safely back where it started nearly two hours after departure.
Sources claim the aircraft was treated to a deep clean and fumigation after arrival. The airline has so far failed to respond to requests for comment on the incident.
Flights between India and the United States are currently restricted to U.S. citizens, as well as permanent U.S. residents and their family members. Some other non-U.S. citizens, including students, are also allowed to fly from India to the United States under a Proclamation signed by President Biden to limit the risk of the B.1.617 COVID-19 variant being spread in the U.S.
The original version of this article cited local media which initially reported that a dead bat carcass had been found onboard. The article has since been updated following publication of a passenger video showing the live bat flying through the cabin.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.