Alaska Airlines Flight Forced To Make Emergency Landing After Employee Fell Asleep In Cargo Hold

In the last year, a number of people have attempted – sometimes successfully – to stow away in different areas of airplanes to catch a free ride. On Monday, a ramp agent for Alaska Airlines inadvertently became a stowaway when he fell asleep in the plane’s cargo hold, causing the plane to initiate an emergency landing after just 14 minutes in the air.

CNN reports that Alaska Airlines Flight 448 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Los Angeles was hardly in the air Monday afternoon when passengers and crew on the plane heard a banging noise coming from the cargo hold.

Several passengers say they knew something wasn’t right with the flight as soon as takeoff began.

“All of a sudden we heard all this pounding underneath the plane and we thought there was something wrong with the landing gear,” one of the passengers tells CNN.

When the noise became louder and faint yells and screams could be heard, passengers said an air marshal on board made himself known.

By then, the pilot had determined that someone might be in the cargo hold and initiated a turnaround and emergency landing.

“We just took off for L.A. regular and then … about five minutes into the flight the captain came on and said we were going back and we’d land within five to seven minutes, and we did,” one of the passengers tells CNN. “When we landed was when all the trucks and the police and the fire trucks surrounded the plane.”

Once the plane was safely on the ground, a ramp agent was found unharmed in the pressurized and temperature-controlled cargo area and taken to an area hospital as a precaution.

According to a statement from Alaska Airlines, the man was a contracted employee for the airline and had been working a 5 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift as part of a four-person team.

“During a pre-departure huddle, the team lead noticed the employee was missing,” the statement says. “The team lead called into the cargo hold for the employee and called and texted the employee’s cell phone, but did not receive an answer. His co-workers believed he finished his shift and went home.”

Instead, the man told the authorities he simply fell asleep. Alaska Airlines says they are continuing to investigate the incident.

The flight eventually made its way to Los Angeles early Monday evening.

Alaska Airlines emergency landing: Ramp agent falls asleep in plane’s cargo hold [CNN]

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