The serpent escaped just as the plane was preparing to land at the Italian capital’s Fiumicino airport, passengers said on Sunday. Witnesses said the beast escaped from a passenger's hand luggage and mobbed toward the front of the aircraft.

The pet’s owner tried to assure his fellow passengers that the snake was harmless, but rose from his seat to capture it when other passengers became alarmed.
 
“He told us it wouldn't hurt a fly, but nobody was convinced and we pleaded with him to get up and go and get it,” said one passenger who asked not to be identified.

Customs at Fiumicino airport were reported to be investigating the incident.