ANCHORAGE, AK (AP) — Anna McConnaughy was flying to Alaska’s largest city when the announcement came over the intercom: a passenger on a previous flight had brought a pet snake on board.
The passenger had gotten off the plane. The snake had not.
“The pilot came, and said, ‘Guys, we have some loose snake on the plane, but we don’t know where it is,’” McConnaughy said Tuesday.
A little boy, one of seven passengers on the Ravn Alaska commuter flight Sunday from the Alaska village of Aniak to Anchorage, was climbing on his seat when he spotted the slumbering snake. It was lying partially covered by a duffel bag near the back of the plane.Unlike the movie “Snakes On A Plane,” this one wasn’t venomous. Mostly, it was sleepy.
“He said, ‘Oh, Mom, look at this. What’s that?’” McConnaughy said. “That’s how we figured out there was a snake sleeping in the corner.”
There was no panic. McConnaughy said. Mostly people wanted to see the snake.
A pilot came back to help, she said, leading to a short discussion with a flight attendant on how best to capture it.
“He said, ‘I’ll hold the bag, and you grab the snake,’” McConnaughy said. “Quite a gentleman.”
The flight attendant grabbed the snake by the belly and dropped it into a plastic trash bag. It spent the rest of the flight in an overhead storage bin, and the plane reached Anchorage on schedule.
McConnaughy’s photos show a pale snake about 4 to 5 feet long. She said it appeared to want only to go back to sleep. Anchorage television station KTVA first reported the incident.
A spokesman for the airline, William Walsh, said in a statement that the snake owner had not registered the pet for travel in the cabin of the Ravn Alaska flight. After arriving in Aniak, he reported that his snake was missing and likely on the return trip to Anchorage.
The airline was thankful for the heads-up, Walsh said. However, it has specific requirements for carrying on reptiles. Ravn Alaska does not allow any large animal that’s not a dog to be used as a service animal.
McConnaughy said there are plenty of snakes where she grew up in the Russian Far East. However, there are no wild snakes in most of Alaska, and she’s not crazy about them, she said.
“Here in Alaska, it’s kind of weird,” she said.