Maggots from rotten fish in overhead bin fall on passenger aboard international Delta flight

Passengers aboard a Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit got a surprising, and disgusting, announcement from the pilot an hour into their flight — they’d be turning around due to maggots falling from a bag in an overhead bin, showering a passenger in the process.

Maggots — the larvae of flies — were found falling from a bag carrying an apparently rotten fish on Delta Flight 133 on Tuesday, a passenger said. Maggots, which are small and wormlike, are typically found in decaying organic matter.

Passenger Philip Schotte, who is Dutch and lives in Iowa, said he saw a maggot fall on a woman at the end of his row, and saw several more fall around her seat.

“I noticed the lady on the other end was doing something on the empty chair next to her, but I couldn’t quite see,” he told NBC News Friday. “I kind of peeked over again and I saw that there were a couple of maggots on the chair that she was trying to kind of contain and stop from falling off the chair. As soon as she noticed that I noticed, she explained that they were falling from the overhead storage.”

“I could see she was freaked out. She was also composed, like she wasn’t like screaming or yelling or anything, but I could tell she was freaking out internally. Especially when I could see one actually fall on her. She immediately flinched and made sure that this maggot was off of her clothes,” he recalled.

He and the woman called for a flight attendant, but had to wait for the takeoff process to finish. Once they did, the flight attendants opened the storage and several more maggots fell out, Schotte said.

He ended up moving to a new seat five rows back and the woman who was getting rained on by the maggots also moved.

When the flight attendants identified the bag the maggots were coming from, a male passenger claimed it as his, and it was opened.

“When the bag was opened, everyone that was still sitting around that area immediately pinched their nose, because there was clearly a bad smell coming from it,” Schotte said.

Schotte said he overheard the passenger explain that there was fish in his bag.

“I don’t know exactly what was going through his mind but he seemed pretty calm throughout the entire ordeal,” Schotte said.

Ultimately, that bag was tightly wrapped in plastic and taken to the back of the plane.

Around the same time, the pilot alerted the passengers about the maggots coming from a bag on board, and announced the plane would turn around.

“There was a kind of, I don’t know if paranoia is the right word, but at least a fear of maggots walking around,” Schotte recalled. He saw passengers pull out their phones and turn on the flashlights to check their surroundings for the creatures.

“There was a little bit of chaos starting in the back of the airplane. I think that it was probably was the right call to turn the plane around at that point. I had moved about five rows back, by the time that we got to landing, one of the maggots had already made its way over to my row,” he said.

When the plane returned to Amsterdam, Schotte said he saw a cleaning crew on board when he deplaned.

FlightAware data shows the flight took off at 10:11 a.m. local time and returned to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at 12 p.m.

It’s not clear if anything happened to the passenger who brought the rotten fish on board.

Schotte said he deplaned with the man and took a bus to a gate at the airport with him.

“I did not get the impression that he was detained at that moment at least. He walked to the service station that we were all directed to with the rest of us. I did see he was seated separately, for a little while at the service area,” he said.

Schotte said the ordeal has left him “flabbergasted” and he felt for the passengers who had trips disrupted by the fiasco.

“A rotten fish with a very bad odor and also live maggots is something that I kind of have to raise my eyebrows at, how that was able to get through security without any sort of issue,” he said.

The passengers’ flights were rebooked. Schotte ended up returning to his final destination, Des Moines, that same day.

Delta apologized to customers in a statement saying, “their trip was interrupted due to an improperly packed carry-on bag.”

“The aircraft returned to the gate and customers were placed on the next available flight. The aircraft was removed from service for cleaning,” Delta said.

According to Delta’s policy, nonedible and edible perishable items are allowed on board in carry-on baggage “provided there is no violation of agricultural restrictions for the destination country.”

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