As Jeff Ellis tried to nod off on his overnight Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Anchorage on June 17 he felt something in his sleeve. He brushed it away, but the sensation returned, this time crawling up from the floor.
It wasn't a snake being chased by Samuel L. Jackson. It was a scorpion.
"I picked my hand up and said, 'Oh, my God. That's a scorpion,'" Ellis told KPTV.
Ellis said he used a napkin to pick up the creature and show his girlfriend, but not before the scorpion stung his elbow.
"At first I didn't believe him," said Suzanne Foster, Ellis' girlfriend. "But then I saw it. He held the napkin up for me to see, and I saw the tail wiggling. I pretty much jumped out of my seat."
With his elbow burning and his girlfriend frightened, Ellis hit the flight attendant call button. He said it felt as if he had been stung by a bee.
Scorpion on a Plane
The flight crew called for medics to meet the plane at the Anchorage airport and two doctors on the flight checked out Ellis.
Using photos he took to identify the arachnid, Ellis believes he was stung by a striped bark scorpion, which are common in Texas.
Marshall Brooks, assistant manager at House of Reptiles in Tigard, Ore., said a sting from a bark scorpion usually leaves most people with minor pain. If a person is allergic to a scorpion sting, it might cause anaphylactic shock, he said.
"He got stung because he threatened it," Brooks said. "Had he used something else to get it off with or just calmly tried to move it onto something else, it probably wouldn't have stung him."
Airline officials believe the scorpion was picked up in Austin, Texas, where the flight originated. Bobbie Egan, spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines, said the airline has never had a poisonous creature on one of its flights before.
In return for Ellis' trouble Alaska has offered him 4,000 frequent-flier miles and two round-trip tickets, and Ellis said he was pleased with the way the airline and flight crew handled the situation.
This is not the first time a scorpion has attacked at 35,000 feet. In 2009, Doug Herbstsommer, 44, from Gilbert, Ariz., was on a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Indianapolis when he "felt something crawling up [his] leg."
"When I went to go swipe it, it stung my hand," Herbstsommer told ABC News.
According to DesertUSA there are about 90 species of scorpions found in the U.S. with the highest concentrations in California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Herbstsommers was believed to be bit by a bark scorpion, the same type of scorpion that bit Ellis.
The Asscoiated Press contributed to this report.