Scorpion stings Calgarian after falling on his head from plane's overhead bin

'Something fell in my hair,' says business traveller eating lunch en route to Calgary from Houston

Richard Bell gives a play-by-play after getting stung by a scorpion on a United Airlines flight 0:44


Update April 13, 2017: United Airlines has given flying credit to the couple in "very much appreciated" compensation for what happened on the flight, according to Linda Bell. 

Original story below.

A Calgary man says he's looking for some kind of compensation from United Airlines after a scorpion dropped on his head and stung him while he was enjoying his lunch in business class. 

"While I was eating, something fell in my hair from the overhead above me," said Richard Bell, who was coming home from Houston on Sunday with his wife, Linda.


There are 1,500 known scorpion species in the world, but they are rare in Canada. The one that apparently stung Bell on the flight had hitched a ride from Houston. (Christy Smith)

"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."

That's when a fellow passenger told Bell the bug was potentially quite dangerous, he said.

"So I dropped it on my plate and then I went to pick it up again, and that's when it stung me. It got my nail, mostly." 

Tossed in restroom

Bell flicked the scorpion onto the floor, where a flight attendant covered it with a cup. 

"Then we got out of our seats and stepped on it. And then the flight attendants threw it in the restroom," he said. 

Airline staff quickly made calls to try to determine how poisonous the scorpion was, Bell said.

richard bell and linda

Richard Bell and his wife, Linda, were eating lunch in business class when the scorpion dropped onto his head. (Richard Bell )

A nurse who happened to be on board gave him some of the painkiller Demerol as a precaution.

"Then when we landed, EMS was there," Bell said.

Border services agents also came onto the plane, anxious to inspect the scorpion, which had already been flushed. 

Bell was taken to hospital and told he would be fine, he said. 

Seeking compensation 

He says he'd like the airline to offer him some compensation for his ordeal — travel credit perhaps.

Bell said he has yet to hear from United Airlines, but that's likely because he had switched seats with another man in order to sit next to his wife.

"I suspect they haven't reached out to me because they reached out to him, and he probably doesn't know what the heck they are talking about because he slept through the whole thing," he said.

Since there was no real harm done, Bell says he has no plans for a lawsuit.

"It's just one of those things that happens, right," he said.

Bell said he suspects the scorpion was hiding in a guitar belonging to some travellers who had just returned from Guatemala or Honduras. 

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