Carry-on snakes wiggle free on airplane

Posted: Tuesday, August 08, 2000

ANCHORAGE -- A Seattle-bound airliner considered an unscheduled stop in Juneau last week after a couple of loose snakes were found aboard the aircraft.

Concerned that reptiles had infested the cabin, the Alaska Airlines flight crew radioed the Seattle air station and thought about an emergency landing.

After finding and capturing one snake, a flight attendant politely asked passengers to declare any animals on board. After a second request, made in a stern voice, a passenger admitted to having two corn snakes, a harmless species that eats small rodents.

Soon after the wayward snakes were bagged and the pilot updated passengers, a flight attendant announced the dinner menu. The passengers had a choice of beef, chicken and a third option.

``Snake,'' the attendant announced, adding ``it tastes just like chicken.''

The snakes' owner, who was not identified, was greeted by security officers at the arrival gate in Seattle.

The woman violated an airline policy that requires passengers to declare pets before taking them on board, said Alaska Airlines spokesman Jack Evans said.

The airline also strictly prohibits stowing snakes in the passenger cabin, Evans said.

Passengers may board with domesticated animals, such as cats, dogs and rabbits -- provided they're stowed in a pet carrier.

``It's the first time I recall snakes getting loose in the cabin,'' Evans said. ``I know there have been incidents when small dogs have gotten loose and have yapped up and down the aisle.''

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