I had just started working as a cabin crew member for an internationally-renowned airline, when I noticed a new addition to my roster that read ‘Tokyo’.
To put it lightly, I was ecstatic.
The day came and my bags were packed, I got through security, and all the checks were complete – finally, I was going.
As soon as the plane completed its ascent, we had to change our uniform jackets to perform the dinner service. With a nod from the senior crew member, we unclipped our belts and began to stand up and move around the cabin. I opened the locker door, casually, to swap jackets.
As I reached in to grab my jacket, I noticed a rather large ball of black fluff clinging on to the material at the bottom. My go-to reaction any time something hairy crawls near me is GIANT! SPIDER!
But as I looked closer, the creature began to look more and more bizarre.
I suddenly became aware of the 100+ passengers in front of me. I mouthed, “There’s something on my jacket” to my co-worker on the opposite isle.
Looking both confused and slightly humoured, she mouthed, “What is it?”
“I don’t know! I think it’s a bug?”
Quickly, I grabbed the jacket with the attached creature and began to walk promptly down the aisle whilst simultaneously trying to avoid panic, and touching the black ball of fluff/monster-spider.
I approached the senior crew member and unintentionally shouted, “THERE’S SOMETHING ON MY JACKET!”.
He looked confused, before opening my jacket.
“Oh my God,” he exclaimed. “It’s a bloody bat!”
Well, there we were, 40,000ft in the air heading to Japan with an illegally imported animal attached to my lapels.
My mind went wild thinking about how it could have gotten there – maybe when the jacket was being dry-cleaned it was stored in a cold, dark room and a bat flew in…? My mind was on over-drive deducing ridiculous situations, trying to figure out how to explain myself to fellow crew members and, more importantly, border control.
The senior crew member called the flight crew to inform them of the incident. My stomach was in knots. How? How did this happen? Why me? A flying-newbie? The senior crew member said that the ground crew wanted to speak to me.
“Hello?” I said, nervously.
“Is bat-women there?” I breathed a sigh of relief – they clearly thought it was funny.
“Oh my gosh,” I replied. “I have no idea how it got there.”
“Well we hope you don’t mind wearing horizontal stripes,” they explained. “Because you’re going to be spending the night in prison for illegally importing animals to a foreign country.”
My anxiety spiked.
“I can’t go to prison – I’m far too fragile!” I laughed, nervously, and blurted: “Are you being serious?”
"Yes," they said, casually.
The senior crew member assured me they were joking, but a small part of me was still not 100-percent sure.
After that, I was bombarded by calls from the ground crew asking for ‘bat-women’ for the next 14-and-a-half hours.
As much as I tried to see the funny side, I remained unsure as to what the Japanese border control protocol was for situations like these. That, and prison.
After landing the aircraft at Tokyo airport we were met by local air staff, two of which were in plastic jump-suits. I felt like I was in an episode of The X-Files. They asked were the bat was, and we handed over a small container with air-holes punched in to the lid, and the word ‘Batty’ printed on the side.
The man in the plastic suit took ‘Batty’ away, and checked my temperature, took my photo, and proceeded to take photos of my now-famous jacket.
Needless to say, I didn’t go to prison, and I’m happy to report that there were no illegal animal stowaways on my next flight, just normal people doing normal crazy things at 40,000ft.
Chloe is from the UK and loves travelling, experiencing the unknown, and taking photos along the way. She has worked as cabin crew, taught English in Taiwan, and is currently living and studying in Melbourne, and working as the marketing specialist for Journeys By Design – the adventure continues!