Alaska Airlines worker falls asleep in cargo hold, wakes up mid-flight

Alaska Airlines planes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in March.

Alaska Airlines planes at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in March.

(Elaine Thompson / Associated Press)

A terrifying moment occurred Monday for an Alaska Airlines contractor when he fell asleep in the cargo hold and woke up to discover the plane was in the air.

After the plane took off at 2:39 p.m., the pilot of the Los Angeles-bound flight heard banging from below and immediately returned to Seattle, according to the airline. Flight 448 was in the air for 14 minutes before making an emergency landing in Seattle.

When the plane landed, crew members found a ramp employee inside the pressurized and temperature-controlled front cargo hold.


The worker, who was a contractor with Menzies Aviation, walked off the plane and told authorities he had fallen asleep.

He was taken to an area hospital, where he passed a drug test, the airline said.

The worker was part of a four-person team loading baggage onto the plane.

He had been working since 5 a.m. and was expected to get off at 2:30 p.m., but his team members noticed he was missing before departure.

They called into the cargo hold and texted his phone but didn’t get a response.

At that point, the team believed he had finished his shift and had gone home for the day.

The plane was carrying 170 passengers and six crew members.

The flight eventually made it to Los Angeles that evening.

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