SFO-bound flight delayed over nine hours after a rat reportedly found on board


world
 SFO-bound flight delayed over nine hours after a rat reportedly found on board

A man stands under a parked Air India aircraft at the Chhatrapati Shivaji international airport in Mumbai, India, Friday, May 11, 2012. Hundreds of passengers have been stranded in India after Air India canceled around 20 international flights due to a strike by pilots.One of the world's longest nonstop flights got quite a bit longer on Sunday when a rat was reportedly spotted on board, prompting a nearly 10-hour delay.

The Times of India reports that Air India's New Delhi-to-San Francisco flight was taxiing on the runway at 2:30 a.m., when someone saw a rat. As per airline protocol, the plane had to return to the terminal to be fumigated. This process took about six hours, according to an Air India spokesperson, by which time the flight's pilots and crew had reached the their work-day limit and could no longer operate the flight. That left the airline scrambling to find a new crew for the flight.

The flight, which should have left in the wee small hours of Sunday morning, finally took off around noon.

Data from flight tracking site FlightAware indicates the flight arrived at 4:27 p.m., in San Francisco, nine hours and 32 minutes late.  The total flight time was 17 hours for the weary 200-some passengers on board.

Air India chairman Rajiv Bansal told the Times of India that he took "serious view" of the delay and has asked for a report on how the rat found itself on the plane.

This isn't the first time a rat has caused problems for Air India. A 2014 Wall Street Journal article reported that the airline had a run of rat sightings, likely from critters hopping rides from luggage or food-catering trucks. They're particularly prevalent in India during the rainy season, which runs from June through September.

"During monsoon season, the rats come out of their hiding places and they go inside buildings including the kitchens where food is prepared by airline caterers," a pest-control firm told the WSJ.

And the rats aren't just upsetting for sanitary reasons; they can also pose a major electrical hazard. Rats and mice that work their way onto planes can chew through wires and do serious damage.

By: San Francisco Chronicle

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