The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Kelly Kazek

November 20, 2011

Couple suffers case of cockroaches on a plane

— If you’re a frequent traveler, you know what a hassle flying has become: removing shoes in public, full body scanning, transferring your Oil of Olay to little plastic bottles and coping with an apparent shortage of those tiny bags of pretzels (I always have to swipe a second bag when the flight attendant’s back is turned).

Now, a couple from North Carolina is reporting a new airborne threat: Cockroaches on a plane.

Why, those little terrorist buggers!

As evidence of their trauma at the hands of roaches, Harry Marsh and Kaitlin Rush took photos of the offending stowaways when they flew from Charlotte to Houston on Sept. 15, and last week filed a lawsuit against AirTran Airways for “negligence and recklessness, intentional infliction of emotional distress, nuisance, fraud, false imprisonment and unfair and deceptive trade practices.”

They are seeking $100,000 in damages, plus a refund of ticket costs.                                         Look, I’m the first one to agree that the sight of roaches isn’t as picturesque as the view flying over the Grand Canyon or, say, Hugh Jackman’s house, but does it really take $100,000 in therapy to get over the emotional distress of seeing a cockroach? If I see one at my house, I just sic my beagle Lucy on him. She’ll chase one for hours and apparently suffer no distress at all, even if she happens to swallow one. In some cultures, cockroach-on-a-stick is a delicacy.                              But this couple claimed a flight attendant’s refusal to properly handle the “situation” caused them to experience abject fear and rampant nausea. Bless their little wimpy hearts.

And check out that laundry list of other claims: “intentional infliction?” Do they think the flight attendants planted the roaches in the overhead air vent? Or perhaps terrorists have found a new weapon of mass destruction.

“False imprisonment?” Did the couple try to jump from the plane mid-flight, only to have the flight attendant block their way, saying: “Let’s at least wait ’til we’re over water, or maybe some soft sand dunes, ’kay huns?”

It will surprise no one to learn that Harry Marsh is an attorney. Who else could have come up with claims to set the airline industry back a few millennia?

He must realize that his quest to fleece the airline of a hundred thousand bucks — perhaps to pay for a lush wedding for his fiancé Kaitlin? — will result in higher fees for the rest of us.

I can see the fee schedule now:

First roach kill: Free (offending stowaway to be disposed of by embedding all six furry feet in concrete and throwing him into the nearest body of water)

Second roach kill: $30 (for roaches weighing under 2 ounces. Otherwise, a $5 surcharge per ounce will be added)

Three or more roaches: Flat fee of $50, unless the roaches do not have their mouthwash and nail polish remover in appropriate plastic containers, in which case there will be a $200 surcharge.

More disturbing than the fact that someone would actually file a lawsuit over the presence of a few roaches is what CNN analyst Sunny Hostin said: “This is a case that’s going to settle. Bottom line, I foresee a lot of free flights for this couple if they want to get back on AirTran.”

And that’s just what Harry the Attorney was counting on.

I personally think AirTran ought to fight back. They have the best defense I’ve heard since “the glove doesn’t fit” and that is: Cockroaches happen.

It’s not like you can make them go through the security check line. Think how long it would take to remove six tiny shoes.

And if that defense doesn’t work, AirTran officials can sic a pack of wild roaches on the sue-happy couple because apparently, unlike any Southern man I’ve ever met, Harry thinks bugs are icky.

Oh, well, if he wins his case, perhaps AirTran could save some money by frying up a few roaches and putting them in those little pretzel bags. I hear they have a nice crunch.  

Email Kelly Kazek at kelly@athensnews-courier.com.

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