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Photo: PA/Alamy

British Lawyer Sues Airline After Being Bitten By a Venomous Spider Mid-Flight

British lawyer and adventurer, Jonathan Hogg, is suing Qatar Airways after being bitten mid-flight by what is assumed to be a brown recluse spider! 

Hogg, 40, is originally from Camden North London. He had recently taken 5 months off work to embark on a once in a lifetime adventure. His trip involved working in an orangutan sanctuary in Borneo, diving with sharks in South Africa and was on his way to Cape Town when his trip was flipped upside down.

Like in most long flights, you have to readjust from time to time. About six hours into his flight, Hogg decided to cross his legs. As soon as he did so, he felt a sharp pain and noticed a spider scurry away on the floor. What he didn’t know at the moment was that the venom from that bite would eat away at his leg. He said:

“I was struggling to get comfortable during the journey and crossed my legs to get into a better position when I felt a small, sharp pain radiating in my left leg. I turned on the light and clearly saw a spider running across the floor before hearing two stewardesses screaming ‘Spider’, but I wasn’t sure if I had been bitten as it really wasn’t very painful.”

A few hours after the bite, his leg became swollen and bruised. By the time he was able to get to a hospital his leg had started splitting open.  He said:

“The pain was like nothing I’ve been through in my life. By the time I got to hospital my leg was bursting open, there was pus, it was black. It was a right mess. (…) It was terrifying.”

When doctors saw his leg, they instantly ushered him into emergency surgery. The surgery involved cutting a huge portion of his leg out. Big chunks of his leg had been damaged beyond saving and all the areas affected by the venom needed to be removed.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Seeing what was left of his leg, Hogg compared it to “something from a horror film”. He told interviewers:

“I knew something was wrong but I had no idea how bad it was until I spoke with the surgeon. When he told me how close I had come to losing my leg I was stunned. It really hit home when they removed the bandages and I saw what was left of my leg – it resembled something from a horror film. They had been forced to cut away so much, I was devastated. However when I realised the extent of my injuries I realised I was just lucky to still have my leg – even if the sight of my leg shocked me when I finally saw it.”

Doctors were pleased to have saved the leg, and Hogg’s life. If his leg had been left untreated any longer…the prognosis could have been much worse. Following this incident, Hogg spent another month in the South African hospital. He had to have three additional surgeries and had a skin graft but even with all that…he still isn’t out of the woodwork. The skin graft hasn’t yet taken so he may still be in for another surgery.

Looking for justice, Hogg is suing the Qatar Airways. He said:

“They have made no attempt to resolve the issue and have basically said it was nothing to do with them. All this has left me very traumatised but determined to seek justice. No one should have to go through what I have and if the airline has made a mistake it should take responsibility.”

Richard Duxbury is representing Hogg in his case. Duxbury explained in detail what they believe is the responsibility of the airline.

“Mr Hogg has suffered a harrowing experience after he was bitten by a very venomous spider. This situation could have been far worse, with Mr Hogg narrowly avoiding losing his leg and perhaps even his life. Airlines have a responsibility to protect passengers from dangerous potential pests by properly fumigating all planes. We will now be investigating Mr Hogg’s claim to determine if there has been any wrongdoing by the airline.”

According to a Qatar Airways spokesman, there hasn’t yet been any legal contact made. In a statement, he said:

“The only known interaction between the airline and Mr. Hogg regarding this incident, which he claims happened on a Qatar Airways aircraft in June, was via our website a week after his travel was complete. No report was filled with any staff on board regarding this incident. We have also not been advised of any legal proceedings regarding this incident. In the circumstances we cannot comment further but will, of course, investigate any further information which is brought to our attention formally. Qatar Airways takes the safety and security of our passengers very seriously.”

About Krystal Tucker

Krystal Tucker
Krystal is a 25 year old writer. She's been a passionate hobbyist for the last few years dabbling in painting, poetry, sculpting, wood work, makeup, jewelry and recently, gardening. When she isn't busy creating, she enjoys her time watching movies and hiking with her husband and two dogs. Poke around, get hooked and come back to read more!! Contact Krystal:
  • Valentino


    My concern with this article is the bold statement that the spider in question indeed was a brown recluse spider. Was the spider caught and indentified as a brow recluse, or is it just that a connection was made between the sighting of a spider and the sypmtopms that the person was suffering?

    The bite itself doesn’t really produce much pain and the severe effects such as experienced by the person in the article are quite rare.

    One more thing to add is the fact that the brown recluse spider can only be found in the North America which makes the lawsuit against the company that is based in Quatar pretty sensless, unless the plane in question was in the US not long before the flight in question.

    The only possibility for the spiders presence on the flight that I can think of is if it came along on a piece of luggage belonging to an american traveler.

    I would really love to see your replay, thank you.

    • Krystal Tucker

      Hi there Valentino!

      As far as I know, the initial pain that was felt wasn’t too bad. Hogg’s assumed was his thrombosis acting up but then of course the symptoms got worse.

      I agree, without the actual spider it may be difficult for Mr. Hoggs to prove it was in fact a brown recluse. There are lots of venomous spiders (even in South Africa) whose bites will produce the same symptoms called loxoscelism.

      Even without the classification of the actual spider, the pain and suffering was definitely proven. So I guess we’ll have to wait and see what comes of the case! Thank you so much for your comment and reminding me to watch my presumptuous language 😉