A Delta flight where DJ Questlove performed, likely to downplay the nightmares of commercial flights. Photo credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Commercial planes are a nightmare. The last thing anyone should want to do is board a giant hunk of metal, only to be sealed inside with people they’ve never met while precariously speeding through thin air. Commercial planes sound like even more of a nightmare when a bird joins the party, causing the flight to turn completely around.

Apparently, that’s a real thing that can happen. The Washington Post reports that a small bird, without going through security or flashing any of its badges, got into the cockpit of a Delta flight from Detroit to Atlanta on Dec. 30. The pilot and other employees knew about the bird before everyone was on the plane but boarded it anyway, according to the Post.

A passenger named Shane Perry told the Post after an hour of sitting at the gate, there was no sign of the bird. The pilot stood in the aisle and waited. There was talk about moving to a different plane.

But with no bird in sight, the captain announced that it must have flown out. The flight took off before noon in Detroit, going smoothly for... a few minutes.

From the Post:

He recalled the pilot telling the passengers: “We’re going to take off, but if I hear any chirping in the cockpit, I’ll turn around.”

“I took that as a joke,” Perry said. ...

Perry doesn’t think they were in the air more than five minutes before the bird made its second appearance. The Delta spokesman described the time as “shortly after takeoff.”


The bird was back, flying around the cockpit with the countless buttons and controls that keep all of those strangers sitting too closely to one another safely in the air. The plane turned around, making a loop around Detroit before landing where it took off just 34 minutes earlier.

The mapped flight path is hilariously disheartening, more resembling the real-time crumbling of hope than the tracking of a plane’s path. The Post reports that employees filed back into the plane once it landed, looking for the bird just like they had about an hour earlier while passengers wondered if they’d miss their connecting flights.

An employee finally came out of the cockpit with a towel in his arms, the Post reports, carrying the little bird out of the plane and allowing it to fly off in the way nature intended. The plane took off once again, and the Post reports that a passenger interviewed for the story made his connection Well, there’s that at least.


But the most important takeaway from this story isn’t passengers making their connections, it’s that we learned a few rules of life: Birds can poop on anybody and anything they please, smack into windows and scrape them without having to pay for what they did, and hop right onto the commercial plane you paid good human money to be miserable on without a ticket or passing through security, only to ground that giant plane 34 minutes later.

Birds are above the law. And even when you’re 40,000 feet in the air, trying to have a smooth and non-nightmarish commercial flight, birds are above you. Never forget that.