“I was in the back and saw the flight attendants getting frantic. Then I saw something being caught and carried out through the doors. It was a small snake on board the plane,” passenger Erik Zettervall, who was flying from Stockholm to Oslo, told Nyheter24.
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) confirmed that the captain stepped in to kick the ticketless snake off the aircraft before the afternoon flight took off from the Swedish capital's Arlanda airport.
“The captain carried it outside and placed it on the lawn. It was around 10 to 15 centimetres long,” SAS press spokesperson Anna Kansell told Nyheter24.
The other passengers were not alerted to the find, which was believed to have been a non-venomous grass snake native to Sweden, at the time and the plane continued the journey on to Norway as scheduled.
“The first thing I thought was 'good thing it wasn't a spider' because then I would have got scared. I'm not too scared of snakes, but if it had been a spider I would have parachuted out with a life vest from 10,000 metres,” said Zettervall, a musician performing together with northern Swedish artist Kitok.
The incident happened on Friday, but was largely overshadowed by the weekend's other airline-related headlines sparked by a Syrian mother giving birth on a plane from Turkey to Stockholm.
The Arabic-speaking woman, in her thirties, went into labour halfway through the flight and confessed that she had boarded the plane well into the ninth month of her pregnancy.
But the baby – a boy – was born with the help of a number of passengers, one of whom was a trained nurse, and was taken to hospital with the mum as soon as they landed.
“It was a wonderful and healthy baby,” Nisrin Sabuncu Hajar, who helped in the delivery, told Sweden’s Expressen newspaper on Saturday.