Tarantulas found on Dominican Republic flight

Posted at 10:08 AM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 10:08:08-04

(CBC/CNN) - Passengers on a flight from the Dominican Republic to Canada lived a real-life nightmare after they found tarantulas crawling up their legs.

An hour into a flight home from Punta Cana to Montreal, passenger Catherine Moreau felt a tickle on her leg.

She looked down and was shocked to see the large arachnid.

“The tarantula was on my knee and going up my leg,” said Moreau.

Her daughter, Laurence, was terrified at the sight of the creepy spider. 

“My heart stopped when I saw it, and I screamed bloody murder,” said Laurence.

Other passengers suddenly realized the tarantula wasn't traveling alone, another similar spider was found onboard.

Sheer panic consumed those onboard, prompting many to raise their feet off the ground to avoid the tarantulas. 

One of the spiders was caught by Moreau's fast-thinking husband.

An entomologist guesses they were Hispaniolan giant tarantulas, which are common in the Dominican Republic.  They were possibly stowaways on someone's carry-on luggage.

"(They) can be aggressive sometimes, so if you try to catch it or put a pen on it or just poke her, it will rise up on the side of its body and show both teeth,” said Etienne Normandin of AnimaNature.

Despite this terrifying thought, a tarantula's venom isn't strong.

Air Transat says their cabin crews are trained to prioritize safety.

In a statement airline officials said:

"In the case at hand, which is an unusual and isolated event, our staff reacted promptly and efficiently."

Despite this claim, that's not how Moreau saw it and wants a refund for her return trip.

She says it's the least Air Transat can do to make up for the scary flight.

Moreau said she sent a certified letter to the airline but hasn't heard a response from a representative.