Snoozing stowaway forces 737 emergency landing

If you think it's uncomfortable flying in coach, imagine how it must feel to be trapped in the cargo hold instead. An Alaska Airlines flight was forced to backtrack today, after an airport employee inadvertently got himself locked in the front hold and found himself unexpectedly embarking on a flight to Los Angeles. Luckily, the plane turned around after just a few minutes, but it's raising questions at the airport as to how the incident could've happened.

"Immediately after takeoff, the pilot of Alaska Airlines flight 448, bound for Los Angeles, reported hearing banging from beneath the aircraft," the airline said in a statement today.

The plane, a Boeing 737, was in the air for approximately 14 minutes, with the pilot declaring an emergency for priority landing when he realized something was awry. It landed back in Seattle, where emergency services were waiting.

Thankfully for the ramp agent who got himself trapped, however, the front cargo hold is both pressurized and temperature controlled. Though he was taken to hospital as a precaution, the main damage would appear to be to his ego rather than his health.

Exactly how the goof came to occur is now under investigation. According to the agent – who is not an Alaska Airlines employee but instead contracted by Menzies Aviation, a provider of passenger, ramp and cargo handling services – he fell asleep and thus didn't spot that he was being locked inside.

Alaska is "active investigating this matter," the airline said following the incident. Flight 448 itself was on the ground for around an hour before taking off again.

SOURCE Alaska Airlines