An Alaska Airlines flight that had just departed from Sea-Tac Airport returned to the airport after pilots heard a person banging on the cargo compartment Monday afternoon.
Alaska Flight 448 to Los Angeles returned to the airport after only 14 minutes in the air to investigate the noise from the forward cargo hold beneath the plane’s passenger compartment. Air traffic controllers gave the pilots priority over other flights to get the plane back on the ground, the airline said.
Rescue workers and airline officials discovered the baggage handler, an employee of Alaska contractor Menzies Aviation, in the cargo compartment when they opened the cargo compartment door. The compartment is both pressurized and temperature controlled, said an airline spokesman.
The worker told investigators he had fallen asleep in the compartment.
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Both airline and airport officials were investigating the incident. The compartment is used to carry luggage and cargo on the flight.
The trapped worker was taken to a hospital to be checked for injuries. He was able to walk away from the aircraft under his own power after the cargo door was opened.