While snakes on a plane might be scary onscreen, a bat loose on an Atlanta-bound flight proved to be horrifying, causing passengers to duck for cover.

The flying mammal appeared about 15 minutes afer Delta filght 5121, operated by Atlantic Southeat Airlines, took off from Madison, Wis., on Friday, cruising around the cabin and above passengers' heads, NBC LA reported.

"The captain called the control tower to say the plane was returning to the airport ro remove a winged animal," said Brent McHenry, spokesperson for the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison.

Eventually, passenger near the rear of the plane was able to swat the bat into the bathroom and shut the door, to the cheers and applause of fellow passengers, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. By the time the plane landed and the passengers deplaned, McHenry said, the bat seemed to vanish. As airport maintenance staff searched the plane, however, a bat flew out and into the terminal. And, finally, to freedom.

"Our terminal has high ceilings, and it's not unusual to have a bird flying around inside," McHenry said. "But the bat created a bit of entertainment for our early morning passengers as maintenance crew members with a large net ushered it outside."

Following a few hours delay, passengers were able to re-board and continue to Atlanta.

Jarek Beem, spokesperson for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, said the airline was "confident in the maintenance search and that the animal was no longer on the aircraft at the time of the next departure."