Malaysia Air flight grounded after snake on a plane

After the captain found out about the snake, he landed in the city of Kuching – 900 kilometers away from the flight's destination – so that the plane could be fumigated.

Snake (illustrative) (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Snake (illustrative)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

A Malaysia Air flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau in Malaysia had to make an unscheduled landing on February 10 after a snake was spotted slithering in the plane’s overhead compartment lights, international media reported.

The incident, a video of which was posted to Twitter, has been likened to the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane across social media.

“Yikes! Snake on a plane!” announced Hana Mohsin Khan in the video uploaded to Twitter.

"This is a very rare incident which can occur on any aircraft from time to time," said Captain Liong Tien Ling, AirAsia's chief safety officer, in a statement emailed to CNN Travel.

"The captain took the appropriate action and the flight safely departed for Tawau as soon as possible… the safety and well-being of our guests and crew is always our top priority. At no time was the safety of guests or crew at any risk."

After the captain found out about the snake, he landed in the city of Kuching – 900 kilometers (560 miles) west of Tawau – so that the plane could be fumigated. Upon the plane's arrival in Glasgow, the local chapter of the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPCA) retrieved the snake – identified as a Spotted Python, a non-venomous species – and put it into quarantine.

Rare as snake-related incidents are on flights, they have been documented in the past. An AeroMexico flight from Torreón to Mexico City in 2016 was forced to make an emergency landing after a large green snake slowly and eerily descended from the overhead bin.

In 2017, an Alaskan Air flight attendant found a snake sleeping in a duffel bag, as a passenger on a previous flight had left it behind. Luckily, the snake was not venomous – unlike in a 2012 incident on Egypt Air when a pet store owner was bitten by an Egyptian Cobra he was attempting to smuggle back into Kuwait.