Maggots in Overhead Bin Force Plane Back to Gate

A passenger brought spoiled meat and maggots aboard a US Airways flight.

ByABC News
July 1, 2010, 10:17 AM

July 1, 2010— -- Just when you thought air travel couldn't get any worse, maggots falling from an overhead bin on a US Airways flight out of Atlanta this week forced the plane to return to the gate.

A container of spoiled meat stored aboard the Atlanta to Charlotte, N.C., flight apparently included some maggots along with it, creating a brief panic among passengers before the pilot turned the plane around.

Passenger Donna Adamo said she noticed some flies when she boarded the plane on Monday. When the plane was taxiing the woman seated behind her, Desiree Williams-Harrell, begin to shout and refused to sit back down, screaming: "There's one over here."

Shortly after, Adamo noticed something on her clothes.

"I thought it was a piece of lint but when I went to flick it off, it was squishy," Adamo said.

After a flight attendant opened the overhead bin with the spoiled meat -- and quickly closed it again -- the pilot announced that there was "a minor disturbance" and the plane was heading back to the gate.

"We were ordered to sit in our seats as maggots were dripping on us," Adamo told ABC News. "It was only five to seven minutes, but it felt like 30 minutes."

Williams-Harrell said said it was "very disgusting" and has yet to hear from the airline.

"I had to have other passengers check my hair and back of clothes to ensure maggots weren't still on me," Williams-Harrell told ABC News.

A cell phone video shot by Adamo as passengers deplaned shows a small white maggot wriggling across a seat.

"I felt skeevy, disgusting. I felt trapped. I don't know what the right decision would have been but it shouldn't have been to force me to sit where there are maggots dripping on me," she said. "It's one thing when they are at the bottom of a garbage can, but when they are sitting on you, it's so gross."

Once the plane reached the gate, all of the passengers and bags were taken out of the cabin. US Airways crews "thoroughly and completely cleaned and scrubbed" the plane before loading the passengers back aboard for the flight, according to airline spokesman Morgan Durrant. The cleaning took about an hour, according to Adamo, and all customers have long since made it to their final destinations, Durrant said.

The flight then went to the airline's hub in Charlotte, where the plane was taken out of service and fumigated.

The Transportation Security Administration does not specifically prohibit meat on planes, and a TSA spokesman said traveling with meat is a safety issue, not a security issue. He referred questions to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"We don't have any rules that deal with raw meat or any other kind of meat," said FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown. "Our rules deal more with size and weight of baggage and having it properly stowed. We also have hazmat restrictions, but I don't think the meat probably qualified as hazmat."