SEATTLE — A baggage handler who fell asleep inside the cargo hold of an Alaska Airlines jetliner called 911 after takeoff to say he couldn’t get out and needed someone to stop the plane, according to a 911 call released Thursday.
“I’m inside a plane, and I feel like it’s moving in the air. Flight 448. Can you please have somebody stop it?” he said in a recording of the call made on Monday.
The 911 dispatcher seemed confused and asked at least three times for the airport worker to clarify his location.
“You’re where?” the dispatcher asked. “Where are you in a plane?”
After the worker repeated his request for help, the dispatcher said: “Are you at the airport?”
The worker tried one more time to explain then hung up. The man sounded progressively more upset in the recording that lasted less than a minute.
The employee of Menzies Aviation, which contracts with airlines to handle baggage, also banged on the roof of the cargo hold and was heard by pilots and first-class passengers on the Los Angeles-bound flight.
The pilots quickly returned to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The plane was in the air just 14 minutes.
The worker “has been permanently banned from ever working on any Alaska Airlines flights,” the airline said in a brief statement Thursday evening.
The Federal Aviation Administration, the airline and Menzies Aviation have been investigating the incident. The airline has said the leader of a baggage-loading crew noticed the worker was missing and tried to call and text him before concluding he had gone home at the end of his shift.
Menzies officials have declined to release the worker’s name. They said he had worked for the company for 18 months and was fortunate he was trapped in a part of the plane that was pressurized and temperature-controlled.
The company said its policies were knowingly violated by an experienced employee who hid in the hold to take a nap.
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