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Early Monday afternoon, An Alaska Airline Boeing 737, took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, on its journey to Los Angeles. Just after takeoff, the pilots of the aircraft heard a loud banging and screams for help coming from inside the aircraft cargo compartment. The pilots contacted ATC and then decided to turn the aircraft around and head back to Seattle-Tacoma.
"The captain immediately returned to Seattle, declaring an emergency for priority landing. The aircraft was in the air for 14 minutes," the airline said.
Passengers onboard the Boeing 737 heard and recorded the loud banging and screaming coming from the bottom of their feet inside the aircraft cargo hold. A passenger stated that two flight Marshall also heard the loud banging and screaming for help; The Marshall's alerted the flight attendant. The Flight Marshall and Flight Attendant then tried to alert the person in the cargo hold by screaming into the floor, letting the trapped man know that the aircraft is being turned around.
After landing; it reported that a ramp worker fell asleep, inside the front cargo compartment. The guy is very lucky. However, he did the right thing by panicking and am sure anyone in his situation; would have done the same; even though the cargo compartment is temperature controlled and pressurized.
According to the Alaska Airline The employee started work at 5 a.m. and was scheduled to end his shift at 2:30 p.m. During a pre-departure huddle, the team leader noticed the employee was missing. The team leader called into the cargo hold for the employee and called and text the employee’s cell phone, but did not receive an answer. His co-workers believed he finished his shift and went home.
Alaska Airline assured us, that all ramp employees have security badges; and that each employee undergoes full criminal background checks and drug screening prior to being hired. Each employee also subjected to random drug tests throughout their employment.
The ramp agent was an employee of Menzies Aviation and had just passed a drug test that same afternoon. He was also transported to Highline Medical Center in Burien, Washington and was treated and released. There were 170 souls on board the Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft, including 6 crew members. The flight later continued on to its original destination and landed in Los Angeles around 6:17 p.m