LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An Alaska Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles made an emergency landing Monday 14 minutes after taking off from Seattle.
Shortly after Flight 448 departed, the airline says the captain heard banging originating from deep inside the aircraft.
The captain immediately declared an emergency and returned to Seattle.
After landing, officials found a ramp employee trapped in the front cargo hold, a space that is pressurized and temperature-controlled.
Still, the worker was taken to a hospital as a precaution but has since been discharged.
The airline says the worker, who started a shift at 5 a.m., told authorities he had fallen asleep before takeoff.
Passengers say the plane’s takeoff at 2:39 p.m. must have woken him up.
“All of a sudden, we just hear some banging right underneath our feet,” said Jaime Davis, who was sitting in first-class literally right above the commotion.
“The two of us thought something was stuck in the wheel ’cause that’s kind of the sound of it and then we started hearing voices from underneath us and pounding significantly louder and louder,” he said.
Troi Ge, another passenger, said two U.S. Marshals on the flight jumped up and took control. One tried to calm down the frantic ramp worker as flight attendants alerted the pilot.
“He just kept banging. Just kept banging. Just kept banging and then at some point, the Marshal kind of made himself known. He started banging back and he yelled really loud and said, ‘We’re getting ready to land. Hold on to something,’ ” Gee said.
The airline says the ramp worker’s shift was over and his four-person team thought he had gone home when he didn’t answer his cellphone.
The flight departed again from Seattle about 1 hour and 20 minutes late and arrived to L.A. just before 6:20 p.m.
The airline says the ramp worker is an employee of Menzies Aviation and passed a drug test Monday afternoon.