Slippery snake spotted above passengers mid-flight

A real case of snakes on an airplane recently occurred when passengers on board an AirAsia flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tawau spotted the reptile slithering along a translucent light panel above their heads.

As soon as the captain became aware of the stowaway about halfway through the two-and-a-half-year flight, a decision was made to immediately divert the flight to the nearest airport.

AirAsia described the incident as “rare”, but something that could happen to any airline. The Airbus A320 has remained on the ground since the snake was spotted on Thursday.

In addition to recovering the snake, engineers will also need to determine if any other reptiles managed to slither in and if any damage was done, particularly to electrical equipment.

“The captain has taken appropriate action and the flight will depart for Tawau as soon as possible,” an AirAsia spokesperson said in a statement. “The safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew is always our top priority. At no time was the safety of guests or crew endangered.

In August 2019, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) found a 15-inch ring-necked snake crawling in a tray at a security checkpoint at Newark Airport. The snake was arrested before it managed to board the flight.

But in 2017, a flight attendant on a Ravn Alaska flight from Aniak to Anchorage had to grab a snake that was crawling around the cabin. She calmly stuffed the snake into a carry bag and the flight continued on its way without any drama.

Apparently, a passenger had brought the snake on a plane without anyone knowing but it then managed to escape from its owner.

Several years earlier, in 2013, a 10ft python was filmed clinging to the side of a Qantas plane flying between Cairns and Port Moresby. Experts believe the snake had hidden in the plane’s undercarriage and had not been spotted before departure.

TOTH: one kilometer at a time

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Mateusz Maszczynski


Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the Middle East’s most important airline and flew 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-centered stories. Always on the cutting edge, Matt’s knowledge, analysis and news coverage are often used by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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