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Cockroaches on a plane? One couple's travel nightmare

Alexander Gatsenko/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Airline passengers are used to being squashed, starved and forced to pay for those cheap movie headphones to survive the flight.

But imagine sitting in your too-small seat with no escape while a cockroach and a few his friends crawl out of the overhead vents and carry-on storage bins above your head.

That's what happened to a North Carolina couple on a AirTrans Airways flight from Charlotte to Houston in September. The bugs appeared shortly after takeoff, and the couple, Harry Marsh and fiancé Kaitlin Rush, claim that the flight attendants didn't jump in with pest control even when the creepy stowaways were pointed out to them.

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So they did what any disgruntled passenger would do: they sued.

It clearly helps that Mr. Marsh is a lawyer because the claim list against the airline covers just about every potential accusation: negligence and recklessness, infliction of emotional distress, nuisance, unfair and deceptive trade practices and false imprisonment - the last one, presumably, because flying is a bit like prison these days, and you might falsely assume you wouldn't need a pocket exterminator while you are in the air. (Just try getting that bug spray through security.)

The airline, CNN reports, is denying the allegations – though the couple has pictures to back up their claim, and is seeking $100,000 (U.S.) in damages plus a ticket refund.

This is not the first time cockroaches have hitched a plane ride. In 2010, an American Airlines flight out of Washington was delayed 90 minutes while flight attendants scrambled to clear out about 50 cockroaches they found behind a curtain between first class and the cockpit – although, luckily before the plane boarded.

According to News Now, a local television station, a spokesperson for the airlines said that "infestations are very rare but not unprecedented."

Ever faced down bugs on a train, plane or bus?

What would you do if you saw cockroaches crawling above your head in mid-flight? (For extra fun, let's say the plane is full.)

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About the Author

Erin Anderssen writes about mental health, social policy and family issues. More

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