A bat got loose on an Atlanta-bound flight, forcing horrified passengers to duck for cover.
The flying mammal appeared about 15 minutes after Delta flight 5121, operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines, took off from Madison, Wis., on Friday, and cruised around the cabin above passengers' heads.
“The captain called the control tower to say the plane was returning to the airport to remove a winged animal,” said Brent McHenry, spokesperson for the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison.
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A passenger near the rear of the plane shooed the bat into the restroom and shut the door, to the cheers of fellow riders, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. But McHenry said that by the time the plane landed and all passengers got off, it seemed to have vanished. As airport maintenance staff searched the plane, however, a bat flew out and into the terminal, he said. From there, workers coaxed it out to freedom.
“Our terminal has high ceilings, and it’s not unusual to have a bird flying around inside,” said McHenry. “But the bat created a bit of entertainment for our early morning passengers as maintenance crew members with a large net ushered it outside.”
After a delay of a few hours, passengers were able to re-board continue on to Atlanta.
Jarek Beem, spokesperson for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, said the airline was “confident in the maintenance search and that the animal was no longer on the aircraft at the time of the next departure.”