Heathrow Airport had to be closed to air traffic for two hour this morning when a kangaroo decided to take a hop along a runway
Having just arrived on the scheduled Australia Airlines flight from Sydney the marsupial then escaped down to the tarmac through one of the plane's emergency exits after a Chinese woman passenger began to attack it with a shoe. Once on the tarmac the kangaroo then decided to go hopping along a runway, presumably to stretch its legs after the long 24 hour flight from Sydney.
Fortunately the airport was able to be reopened again later after the kangaroo was eventually captured unharmed by Heathrow's Animal Welfare Unit and placed into quarantine. Heathrow has warned people arriving for flights this afternoon that departure times face possible delays of up to one hour.
Meanwhile there are two major questions being asked. Firstly, how a kangaroo managed to enter the passenger compartment of the aircraft at Sydney yesterday without apparently being noticed by anyone. Secondly, how it's presence then continued to go unnoticed by anyone on board throughout the long 24 hour flight from Australia to the UK.
Responding to the first question a spokesman for the airline said this afternoon the most likely explanation would seem to be that the kangaroo had somehow hopped onto the plane at Sydney when the inside of the aircraft was being cleaned in readiness for the next flight.
"The fuselage door was open and the steps were up against the aircraft during cleaning," he said. "The cleaning staff would have been going about their duties concentrating on their work, and probably cleaning under a row of seats when the kangaroo hopped along the aisle behind them. Also we think the kangaroo then sat down on the seat of a row they'd already cleaned. All things considered it's easy to see how the kangaroo went unnoticed."
Moving on to the second question of how the kangaroo then remained unnoticed by anyone on the plane throughout the 24 hour flight from Sydney to Heathrow, the Australia Airlines spokesman continued,
"Initial investigations carried out indicate that a combination of three factors were involved. Firstly, this particular flight did take off with a few empty seats. Unfortunately the kangaroo choose one of those unreserved seats to sit on. It meant that when boarding the aircraft at Sydney yesterday no one reported their seat as already being occupied to any of the flight attendants.'
'Secondly, the kangaroo chose a window seat. Had it sat down on a seat nearer to the aisle we're sure one of the flight attendants would have noticed the kangaroo sitting there.'
'Thirdly, I have to mention the elderly English passenger, Mrs Ethel Crumble. The fact is that Mrs Crumble sat next to the kangaroo throughout the flight without mentioning it to any of the flight attendants. The very fact that the passenger has not mentioned to a flight attendant that a kangaroo is sitting next to them is obviously going to result in the presumption that there isn't a kangaroo sitting next to the passenger. Quite frankly all of this could have been sorted out before the plane left the ground at Sydney if only Mrs Crumble had mentioned the presence of the kangaroo sitting on her row by the window when she boarded the plane and sat down in her seat. The silly old woman has to be as blind as a bat!"
The elderly woman he refers to is Mrs Ethel Crumble, a frail seventy-nine year old widow from Taunton, who was on the flight from Sydney returning to the UK following a once in a lifetime visit to see her older sister Mildred who'd emigrated to Australia over five decades ago. We have contacted Mrs Crumble to ask whether she cared to respond to the comments made about her by the spokesman for the airline.
"I most certainly do want to respond," she said. "I'll have him know I'm seventy-nine years old. Blind as a bat am I? I've never been so insulted in all my life. Let's see what his eyesight will be like when he's seventy-nine years old. Is it a crime in Australia nowadays for a seventy-nine year old woman to forget to bring her glasses with her when getting on a plane? I'd left my glasses on the living room sideboard at my sister's house when the taxi came to take me to the airport. Without my glasses everything looks a little blurry, but that doesn't make me blind as a bat. How dare he say that about a seventy-nine year old woman. How was I to know a kangaroo was sitting by the window on that row? When I was shown to my seat all I could see was a brownish blue sitting by the window further along that row."
Mrs Crumble did go on to admit that she'd noticed a rather unpleasant smell emanating from the occupant by the window along her row of seats during the flight.
'Yes, I did think he was a bit smelly," she admits, "but for most of the 24 hours he was just sleeping and snoring.There was the occasional grunt, and to be honest also quite a lot of farts, but that was no reason for me to think a kangaroo was sitting there, I assumed he was just some aussie fella the same as anyone would have!"