Passenger Donna Adamo said she noticed a couple of flies on the Monday flight when she got to her seat but didn't think much of it. Then, as the plane was taxiing, she heard a passenger behind her causing a commotion and refusing to take her seat.
"Then I heard the word 'maggot' and that kind of got everybody creeped out," she said. "All of a sudden, I felt somebody flick the back of my hair and on the front of me came a maggot, which I flicked off me."
A passenger had the container in a carry-on bag and brought it on Monday's flight heading from Atlanta to Charlotte, N.C., said US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher. The pilot announced that they were returning to the gate because of a "minor emergency on board" and the flight attendants told everyone to sit down and be calm, Adamo said.
"I felt like they were crawling all over me because it only takes one maggot to upset your world," she said. "And as they're telling us to stay calm and seated, I see a maggot looking back at me and I'm thinking, 'These are anaerobic, flesh-eating larvae that the flight attendants don't have to sit with."'
A shaky cell phone video shot by Adamo as passengers deplaned shows a small white maggot wriggling across a seat.
Once the plane returned to the gate, the passengers were asked to get off, and a crew boarded to clean up the mess, Lehmacher said. The flight then continued on to Charlotte, where the plane was taken out of service and fumigated "out of an abundance of caution."
The passenger who brought the spoiled meat on board did not get back on the plane and was put on another flight, Lehmacher said. Other passengers were told their connecting flights in Charlotte would be held for them, said Adamo, who was traveling home to Syracuse, N.Y., and made her connection.
It's unclear why the spoiled meat was brought on the plane, and Adamo said she didn't notice a foul smell at any point.
"You can buy meat anywhere," Adamo said. "I don't know what special piece of meat was in Atlanta that needed to get to Charlotte, but it affected hundreds, if not thousands ... of passengers, and is a health risk."
Associated Press Online Video Producer Myra Lopez contributed to this report.