Air India flight held hostage over Iran - by a rat

Rats on a plane: furry freeloader fouls up flight, sending passengers into a tizzy and turning the plane back to Mumbai.

Ari Yashar,

Rat in India (illustration)
Rat in India (illustration)

Passengers on Air India Flight 131 from Mumbai to London on Wednesday were held hostage by an illegal stowaway on the plane, who forced the pilot to turn around and return to their point of take-off.

The tiny stowaway was remarkable for one very blatant reason - he was a rat.

Flight AI 131 was making its way over Iran en route to the UK when one passenger caused an uproar, as they spread around the bitter tidings that they had just spotted the furry freeloader, according to local media cited by BBC.

Once the presence of the rodent rider was made known, the flight crew smartly sprang into action, performing an about-face in mid-air and high-tailing it back to India, where jumpy passengers were later given a replacement plane to try their journey again without any more high-tailing or rat-tailing.

Air India remains somewhat flummoxed, noting "the presence of the rodent was not confirmed," in an admission revealing that the rat remains at large.

They promised to rectify the situation however, pledging to fumigate the plane and launch an investigation after the tiny tracks of the stowaway.

Aside from causing passengers to shriek shrilly, rats can be dangerous passengers due to their potential to chew through wires and dirty food supplies, thereby posing a health risk.

Air India has not had much luck in the rat department - earlier this year in July, another jet en route from New Delhi to Milan was forced to turn around due to the presence of a rat, possibly indicating that Wednesday's offender was a copy-cat criminal.

The state-owned airline has in fact not been having much lucky in any department lately, having been forced to cut costs due to its worrying financial picture.

That general lack of good fortunate was on display again earlier this month, when a technician of the airline was sucked into an aircraft engine and killed at Mumbai airport.