United’s Very Bad Week: Scorpion Falls From Overhead Bin And Stings Passenger

Oh man, as if the last few weeks could get any worse for United…

In this case I’d argue it’s not United’s fault, but it’s just very bad luck that this is happening on one of their flights (or maybe karma). šŸ˜‰

This past Sunday (the same day United’s infamous “dragging” happened) a Canadian couple, Richard and Linda Bell, were on their way home from a vacation in Mexico. They took a United flight from Houston to Calgary, UA1418. During the flight a scorpion fell from the overhead bin onto Richard.Ā Global News Canada reports:

A man sitting next to them on the plane pointed it out was a scorpion ā€” and dangerous.

Richard dropped it on his plate, then picked it up again. Thatā€™s when it stung him.

It ā€œfelt like a wasp sting,ā€ he said.

The scorpion was likely a stowaway in someoneā€™s luggage. Another passenger on the flight stomped on the creature before it was thrown in a toilet.

The flight was met by emergency services, though the passenger didn’t end up requiring treatment. Unfortunately flushing the scorpion down the toilet probably wasn’t the best move, since they couldn’t analyze the creature to see if it was poisonous.

I’m also not sure why the passenger decided to pick up the scorpion again. He explained it fell on him, he put it on the tray, and a passenger told him it’s dangerous. But then he picked it up again, which is the point at which he got stung.

Personally I don’t think it’s fair to blame United for this one. It’s likely that a passenger brought on the creature in their luggage, and I don’t think it represents any sort of negligence on United’s part. We’ve seen plenty of creatures make surprise visits on other airlines, from snakes on Aeromexico to rats on Air IndiaĀ (arguably the latter was within Air India’s control, since it was a recurring problem they had that they chose not to address).

This is still a creepy incident, though…

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Hey, Oscar as much as said “they’d find a better way than a good squad to get reluctant passengers out of their seats”.

    If $800 of useless United chits won’t do it, a scorpion almost certainly will.

  2. why wouldn’t it be United’s fault, imagine a stray dog somehow enters a hotel you’re staying at, got up a few floors and finds you waiting in front of the elevator, he runs towards you and bite your leg, whose fault would it be? dog’s? yours? or maybe hotel’s, just maybe.

  3. I don’t understand why it’s not United’s fault. It happened on their aircraft. Aren’t they responsible for ensuring the plane is safe?

  4. @ ns @ Kai — I’m not sure what they could have done to prevent it? I assume they didn’t intentionally put it on the plane, so it’s likely it was brought on by a passenger, either in their luggage, or something. I don’t think there was any real negligence here.

  5. Hm definitely not UA’s fault methinks. The passenger who brought it (if anyone) was definitely the one who should be held responsible. Them as well as TSA. The Canadian couple were transiting from Mexico. So how on earth did both airport authorities in Mexico AND Houston miss a live scorpion inside someone’s carry-on?

  6. @Lucky – “I donā€™t think there was any real negligence here.” , really?

    The negligence is ofcourse on the Airlines again, they HAVE TO CHECK and CLEAN EVERY SPACE OF THE AIRPLANE EVERY TIME before boarding passengers . We know they don’t do that always in order to save costs but its still their job to do so and ensure the safety of paying passengers.

    If the guy was seriously injured you think the airline is not liable to him or his loved ones ?

  7. @Debit – one likely scenario is that it was in someone’s carry-on luggage, not sitting on the plane. Can’t blame the airline for that.

    @Lucky – scorpions are venomous (injected toxin), not poisonous (contact toxin).

  8. I don’t think UA is responsible here. We are not talking about pests like rats or insect infestation due to the uncleanliness of the cabin. This is a scorpion that hitchhiked on someone else’s carryon, and fell on the victim. Suppose you get a stowaway fly, mosquito, or bug of some kind, would you also blame the carrier for that?

  9. I can’t see that it is directly attributable to UA’s negligence although whether there is any strict liability I don’t know. I would have thought that there was some contributory negligence on the part of the man when he picked it up for the second time…. Only vaguely news-worthy due to the ongoing UA misery.

  10. How do people know this came on with a passenger’s luggage? With all the security that baggage needs to go through I am deeply skeptical that the owner of the luggage and security are going to miss a frickin scorpion crawling around the outside of a piece of luggage. Seems more likely the scorpion got on via airport staff/cleaning crews/mechanics or others carrying bags that are not going through security shortly before boarding. In that case then United does have responsibility because they didn’t check the plane properly before boarding. No way to really tell.

  11. @Bill-TSA misses 95% of weapons on inspections, and you think they are going to catch a scorpion?

  12. Much as I detest United, this incident is definitely not their fault. I guess when it rains it pours… Incidentally, certain newspapers (New York Post, Daily Mail UK, for example) are trying to vilify Dr. Dao — as if indiscretions of his past are relevant to the horrific treatment he got at the hands of United! Anyway, he’s got two good lawyers working for him.

  13. Hell, I was in AZ for a few days, I was at my mother’s house which is in a small town. Set my carryon in the guest bedroom right after I arrived. That evening when I went to get my personal hygiene stuff to take a shower, sure as shit, in my carryon, a bark scorpion (they have a particularly nasty venom btw), two inches long, was crawling out. I grabbed a magazine to brush it on the floor then killed it.
    Not surprised this happens, and surprised it hasn’t occurred more often. In this case it certainly is not United’s fault, as much as they are detested.

    To echo what a couple others said, animals are venomous, not poisonous, plants are poisonous.

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