'Oh, my God, something bit me': Scorpion stings student on Toronto to Calgary flight

A woman on a flight from Toronto to Calgary said the lights had just dimmed for landing when she felt a piercing pain on her back and began "freaking out," forced to wear her seatbelt for minutes before leaping up to find a scorpion.

Flight attendant tried to blame it on a gum wrapper before creature found in fold of seat, woman says

Scorpion on a plane

CBC News Calgary

2 years ago
Scorpion on a plane 0:30

A woman on an Air Transat flight from Toronto to Calgary on Feb. 26 was startled when she was stung by a scorpion shortly before the plane landed.

Quin Maltais is from Yukon and is studying in Alberta. She was in the last hour of a four-hour flight when she started to feel a fluttering motion on her lower back.

"I just kind of ignored it," she said, thinking the air conditioning on the plane was blowing down her back.

'Piercing pain'

"As soon as the lights turned off again, closer to when we're literally about to land, I felt the piercing pain on my lower back, like, oh, my God, something bit me."

She said she was freaking out, trying to grab her sweater, but couldn't take her seatbelt off to see what it was as the plane was landing.

"The lights turned on, I looked into the ball of bundled sweater that I had but nothing was there. I looked behind me on the seat and then I saw movement and there was a scorpion that was in the fold toward the back of the chair."

As soon as the lights turned off again … I felt the piercing pain on my lower back, like, oh, my God, something bit me.- Quin Maltais

She said she ripped her seatbelt off, and jumped onto her armrest and stared, needing to process what she was seeing.

"There was a scorpion in my sweater. It was on my back for the past 30 minutes … it was like four inches [about 10 cm], maybe," she said, adding that she wondered "what is that doing on a Canadian flight."

Maltais asked a flight attendant to explain what was happening. She said the attendant initially went back to her seat and found a gum wrapper, trying to tell her that's what had stung her. But Maltais told her to check again, so she did and then spotted the scorpion between the seats. 

Paramedics escorted her off the plane. EMS confirmed they responded to the airport at 10:30 p.m. and assessed Maltais, and she wasn't hurt. 

"I had a full-fledged panic attack … paramedics had to kind of keep me strapped to a heart monitor for a while cause I was just unable to calm down," she said.

This scorpion wiggled behind a passenger on a flight from Toronto to Calgary and stung her just before the plane landed. (Air Transat)

Scorpion handed to airport authorities

As for the scorpion, the airline confirmed it was captured once all passengers had disembarked from the plane and handed over to airport authorities.

"Although this is an extremely rare situation, it can unfortunately occur. Our teams followed the protocols in place and a complete inspection of the aircraft, as well as an extermination process, were carried," said an Air Transat spokesperson in an emailed statement.

The airline didn't say how, or where, the scorpion likely got on the plane.

As for Maltais, she's a bit shaken but doesn't plan on letting the scare keep her from travelling.

"Not so keen to go on a plane for a while, but definitely will not stop travelling. I definitely will check under my seat."

With files from CBC Whitehorse


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