Alaska Airlines Flight 448 had to return to Seattle (US) 14 minutes after its departure because a baggage handler had fallen asleep in the cargo hold.
The pilot turned the flight around after hearing a banging noise beneath the aircraft, declaring an emergency for priority landing. The aircraft took off from Seattle at 14.39h local time to go to Los Angeles (US). The flight landed in Los Angeles at 18.17h, one hour and 15 minutes late.
The employee, who works for the airline’s contractor, Menzies Aviation, was part of a four person team loading baggage onto the flight. The cargo hold he fell asleep in is pressurised and temperature controlled. He was taken to hospital for a medical check before being discharged. The employee, who has not been named, has been banned from working with Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Airlines says: “A ramp employee who fell asleep in the cargo hold of an Alaska Airlines aircraft has been discharged from the hospital. The employee, who works for Alaska Airlines’ contractor Menzies Aviation, passed a drugs test this afternoon.” The carrier adds he started work at 05.00h and was to finish at 14.30h. His team leader tried to contact him when he went missing, but his co-workers assumed he had gone home.