Area man finds himself stuck next to a 1,350-pound grizzly bear on a six-hour flight to Pittsburgh
Skeedler, WA — With only minutes left before take off, United AirMerica passenger Al Levine found himself next to the only empty seat on a packed flight. Confident that the seat would not be claimed, he set his backpack on it and rested easy. Then the flight crew reopened the cabin door to let one final passenger on board: a 1,350-pound grizzly bear.
As the gigantic animal lumbered toward him, Levine lowered the arm rest next to his seat. This would be the only protection he would have separating him from the beast on the six-hour flight to Pennsylvania. Al stood courteously to make room for the bear to squeeze past him and into the middle seat but as the bear shoved his way past Al, he was engulfed in its fur and its many pungent odors. “My face was completely engulfed in bear fur. It smelled like dirt, sweat, salmon, honey, urine, and death.” The bear rudely lifted the arm rest back up when it sat, its girth pouring into Al’s personal space. “Every time I relaxed my legs they would want to lean against the bear’s. I knew I couldn’t risk that, so I had to clench them together for the entire flight,” Al recalls. “I got cramps in my lap. I didn’t know that was even possible.”
“It smelled like dirt, sweat, salmon, honey, urine, and death.”
Levine’s plus-sized neighbor’s furry flank was pressed into him for the duration of the flight, rendering his right arm useless to open pretzels and leaving no space for him to put down his tray to watch movies on his laptop. “I had a copy of the Revenant I had planned on watching. It’s probably better I didn’t anyway,” Levine said. By the time the airplane had completed its initial ascent, the bear was hibernating, resting all of its weight on Al, nearly suffocating him. “At one point it got so bad I just went into the bathroom and softly wept for like ten minutes,” the shaken man reported.
“At one point it got so bad I just went into the bathroom and softly wept for like ten minutes…”
The only moment of aggression Levine witnessed was when the plane landed. The moment the “unfasten seatbelt” sign lit up and it was time to deplane, the bear sprung from its seat, ramming past Al and plowing through fellow passengers like a charging bull so that it would be the first one off once the cabin door was opened.
Levine remains shaken up from the experience. “There should be laws about passengers that size. They should have to buy an extra seat or something. It’s outrageous,” he lamented. Al plans to file a complaint with United AirMerica about the incident and hopes that nobody ever has to live through the trauma that he did.
Editor in Chief of BNN. Author and illustrator of Bearmageddon, Axe Cop and the upcoming Dickinson Killdeer’s Guide to Bears of the Apocalypse: Ursine Abominations of the End Times and How to Defeat Them.