A Scorpion Stung a Passenger on a United Flight

Shutterstock/Eric Villas-Boas

After video of a man being forcibly removed from a plane hit the web earlier this week, United Airlines is facing one of the worst public image crises in an airline’s history. The calls to boycott United have been swift -- much like the airline’s initial response to the incident was poorly received -- and the company was slapped with a stock devaluation nearing $1 billion as the outrage surrounding Flight 3411 mounted.

But another story reported today isn’t doing United any favors, either: A man flying business class on United from Houston to Calgary, Canada on Sunday was stung by a scorpion when it fell from an overhead container and landed on his head. Richard Bell told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation: “While I was eating, something fell in my hair from the overhead above me...I picked it up, and it was a scorpion. And I was holding it out by the tail, so it couldn’t really sting me then.”

Bell claims he dropped the scorpion onto his plate, only to pick it up again and get stung by the yellowish, 1 ½ inch-long arachnid. He then tossed it onto the cabin’s aisle, where a flight attendant trapped it under a cup. Bell crushed the scorpion with his foot, and flight staff then disposed of it in the bathroom.

The event was enough to induce a minor panic, as Bell and his wife used in-flight WiFi to Google everything related to scorpion stings and their symptoms and consequences. A nurse who happened to be onboard the flight gave Bell a pain killer to quell the sensation, which he likened to a wasp sting. When the plane landed in Calgary, EMS were already on site ready to take him to the hospital, where he was eventually told he was fine.

The incident was corroborated by United, as an airline spokesperson told The Guardian: “Our flight attendants helped a customer who was stung by what appeared to be a scorpion..Our crew immediately consulted with a MedLink physician on the ground who provided guidance throughout the incident and assured our crew that it was not a life-threatening matter.” The scorpion likely crawled its way into someone’s luggage, staying there until it dropped into the cabin, according to Bell.  

Bell and his wife have been compensated by the airline in the form of flight credits, much like all passengers of Flight 3411, who are set to receive “compensation for the cost of their tickets," for having experienced that now infamous debacle. 

[CBC via The Guardian]

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster.