In a bizarre situation, an Air India flight from Delhi to Newark had to return this week due to a bat in the cabin. Passengers and crew noticed the animal around 20 minutes after take-off and reported it to the pilot immediately. The plane landed safely in Delhi two hours after departure after burning fuel and the bat was removed.

The flight was delayed by four hours due to the incident and the subsequent aircraft change. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying


According to NDTV, the incident occurred Thursday (May 27) on Air India flight AI105 from New Delhi to Newark. The flight took off at 02:28 a.m. local time for the 15-hour journey to the United States. However, about 20 minutes after the flight, the passengers and crew in Business Class noticed something terrifying: There was an uninvited guest on board.

On the ground, a bat appears to have entered the aircraft and escaped discovery by the cabin crew during the pre-flight inspection. In the air, the bat rose again, with passengers on board recording videos of the animal flying through the plane.

Only that could be seen in 2021:

Air India flight to Newark returns to Delhi after a bat flew past the cabin.

ps: although it’s heading towards the area where the really good @airindiain sandwiches are kept ๐Ÿ˜Ž

– Tarun Shukla (@shukla_tarun) May 28, 2021

When the crew noticed that the bat was flying through the aircraft (in clear disregard for the safety rules during take-off, we may add), the crew quickly informed the pilots. As the procedure is, the flight returned to Delhi to remove the bat as soon as possible.

Turn around

However, landing a fuel-filled Boeing 777-300ER for a 15-hour flight isn’t as easy as it seems. Due to the weight of the aircraft, the aircraft first had to circle over Delhi Airport in order to reach the maximum allowable landing weight. Landing without burning fuel could result in a hard landing that could potentially damage the aircraft structurally.

This meant that the frightened travelers on board had to spend almost an hour and a half with the free rider. The plane landed safely in Delhi at 4:20 a.m. local time, a full two hours after the first take-off.

mapThe bat and all passengers on board had to return to Delhi after two hours in the sky. Data and map:

After landing, the passengers disembarked immediately and a fumigation team was sent on board to take care of the bat. The remains of the bat were removed from row 8 some time later, ending the situation.

In a statement, a DGCA official said:

โ€œThe Air India B777-300ER VT-ALM aircraft operating flight AI-105 (Delhi-Newark) was involved in an air reversal as the cabin crew was reported by a bat in the cabin after take-off. Fuel was dropped and the plane landed safely in Delhi. After landing, fumigation was carried out and a dead bat carcass was recovered from the area around seat 8DEF. “

New plane

Due to the incident, the original aircraft (registration number VT-ALM) was on the ground and a new aircraft was requested. The rest of the passengers to Newark were accommodated on another 777-300ER, registration VT-ALU, which departed Delhi at 06:37 AM local time, arriving in the US just under four hours late (and with a thorough check for unwanted bats ).

Air India 777-300ERPassengers were switched to another aircraft for their flight. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Easy flying

According to an initial report from Air India’s engineering team, the bat may have entered while loading food. As the door opened for the catering vehicle, the animal appears to have crept in. However, we will know once a full investigation is completed.