It’s not “Snakes on a Plane,” but it’s close: Mice on board grounded two Delta flights leaving JFK this fall.

The first mouse stopped an Oct. 18 flight to London’s Heathrow Airport. Then, on Nov. 8, a passenger spotted another mouse headed for England.

If holiday travel wasn’t stressful enough, add mice at 30,000 feet to the mix; they’re more common than one might think. In his 30 years of flying, retired commercial airline pilot Kit Darby has seen “two or three” aboard planes. Other commercial pilots report seeing the vermin, or their droppings, as well. They’re usually spotted in the galley.


“They can chew through the electrical wiring, which affects the lighting and entertainment systems,” said Darby, 62. “But most of the important wiring is shielded from them.”

The Delta planes were immediately taken out of service to be fumigated and both times the passengers were switched to different planes.

“Fumigating is very cheap, but taking an aircraft out of service is extremely expensive — you’re still paying insurance, the lease fees,” said Eric Perle, who currently pilots a Boeing 777 for a large commercial airline. “If they can’t put the people on another aircraft, you have to cancel the flight and you can lose up to a million dollars per flight. But airlines are willing to do that because the last thing they want is a bad name.”

Latest From ...