An Army of 'Large, Fat Ants' Infested This Plane — and a Passenger Live-Tweeted the Whole Ordeal

United Airlines
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Forget snakes on a plane. Ants on a plane somehow seem even worse.

On a United Airlines flight from Venice, Italy to Newark, New Jersey, Charlotte Burns, senior editor of the “In Other Words” podcast, found herself facing a swarm of “large, fat ants,” USA Today reported.

Burns tweeted about her experience, almost moment-by-moment. If this doesn’t make you squirm and itch all over, perhaps nothing will.

According to USA Today, the first ant sighting began on the tarmac in Venice, when Burns saw a “large, fat ant" crawl across her pillow.

As Burns settled into her flight, so did the ants. As she was reading her book, she spotted another one. Then, a third ant was spotted by a flight attendant, walking across a seat back.

As the flight attendants became aware of the situation, suddenly one of the other passengers said that he, in fact, saw a “parade” of six ants walking across an overhead bin (and apparently didn’t say anything).

Still, through takeoff and meal service, according to Burns, nothing was being done about the ants. That is, until a flight attendant came by with a “flashlight and a wet cloth,” in order to wipe away the soon-to-be swarming insects.

“Sure, ant-mageddon might be undone by a lemony rag, why not,” Burns wrote on Twitter.

Flight attendants thoroughly wiped down her seat, but the ant problem remained. After the flight attendants went to the aforementioned overhead bin, they lifted up bags to find one that was teeming with ants beneath it. And it didn’t look like anyone on the plane was equipped to handle the situation, since the bag was taken out of the overhead compartment and opened on the seat, according to Burns, spilling ants in every direction.

And to make this entire situation seem even more like a dystopian nightmare, everyone was wearing Spider-Man branded eye masks thanks to a partnership between United and Sony Pictures, according to

Flight attendants quarantined the infested bag and the plane continued on to Newark, USA Today reported. The man with the quarantined bag, according to Burns, spent about an hour wandering the aisles of the plane, and according to him, ants are not such a big deal.

“We are concerned by the experience our customer reported on United flight 169 from Venice to Newark,” United told USA Today in a statement. “We have been in contact with the crew and they have advised the ants have been isolated from a customer’s bag and the affected areas have been wiped down. We will be taking the aircraft out of service when it arrives in Newark.”

Burns, however, was not satisfied with the airline placing all of the blame on a passenger’s bag, especially after being told by a crew member that infestations “never happen.” Infestations are not an everyday occurrence, but they do happen, whether it’s ants, spiders, bed bugs, or cockroaches.

“Bugs happen! Deal with them! Don't tell one passenger to blame another passenger for an inconvenienced flight with an abundance of household insects,” Burns wrote on Twitter.

Of course, when Burns arrived home she discovered she had quite a few ant bites. She used a Zapp Bug Oven to make sure none had stowed away with her.

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