#WTF?! A sleepy Sea-Tac Airport worker who used the cargo-hold for a nap was awakened in a panic when the Alaska Airlines 737 flight took off for Los Angeles.
Flight 448 departed at 2:39 p.m. but immediately after takeoff the pilot reported hearing banging from someone underneath the plane, the airline said in a statement.
The captain declared an emergency and returned to the airport, where a Menzies Aviation ramp agent was found inside the front cargo hold. The ramp agent was taken to Highline Hospital to be checked out and was later released.
The employee later told officials he had fallen asleep in the plane, according to a blog post by Alaska Airlines. Menzies contracts with Alaska to provide luggage services.
The worker, who was part of a four-person baggage loading team, was scheduled to end his shift at 2:30 p.m., according to the Airline. After loading the Los Angeles-bound plane, the team leader noticed one of the four employees was missing. He said he called and texted the worker, but didn't hear anything back so he assumed the worker finished his shift and went home.
Marty Collins was on the flight and said it was a routine take off but they were quickly told they had to go back to Seattle.
"We just took off for L.A. regular and then about, oh, about 5 minutes into the flight the captain came on and said we were going back and we'd land within 5-7 minutes, and we did," Collins said. "When we landed was when all the trucks and the police and the fire trucks surrounded the plane."
The plane was in the air for 14 minutes, the airline said.
Collins said social media posts were what initially alerted passengers to what had happened, and then officials finally let them know.
"They just said there was someone in the cargo hold and he's been escorted off and taken away," Collins said.
When asked if passengers could hear the worker clamoring for help, Collins said: "Nobody on the plane heard anything like that; nobody knew why we were turning around," she said. "They just said we were fine and we weren't in any danger."
The airline says the cargo hold is pressurized and temperature controlled.
Passengers remained on the plane so it could be checked out, and then the plane took off again for Los Angeles just after 4 p.m.
Alaska Airlines says it is actively investigating the incident. Airline officials say the worker passed a drug test Monday afternoon.
(Story courtesy of komonews.com)