An Air India flight to Newark, New York was forced to return to Delhi after a live bat caused panic when it started flying through the passenger cabin according to local media reports and video posted to social media.
Air India flight AI105 departed Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport at around 2:30 am on Thursday but the bat was spotted just a short time after takeoff, flight data provided by Flightradar24 reveals.
According to sources cited by the Economic Times, the bat was first spotted in the eighth row and the pilots were then informed. After a discussion with air traffic control, the Boeing 777 aircraft was forced into a holding pattern over an unpopulated area in order to jettison fuel so that it could safely return to Dehli airport.
The aircraft landed safely back where it started nearly two hours after departure.
Sources claim the aircraft was treated to a deep clean and fumigation after arrival. The airline has so far failed to respond to requests for comment on the incident.
Flights between India and the United States are currently restricted to U.S. citizens, as well as permanent U.S. residents and their family members. Some other non-U.S. citizens, including students, are also allowed to fly from India to the United States under a Proclamation signed by President Biden to limit the risk of the B.1.617 COVID-19 variant being spread in the U.S.