Plane makes emergency landing after worker trapped in cargo hold

WATCH: An Alaska Airlines flight en route from Seattle to Los Angeles had to make an emergency landing after banging noises were heard coming from the cargo area. Jackson Proskow reports.

TORONTO — Falling asleep on the job is never a good idea, as one U.S. ramp agent learned the hard way Monday.

Alaska Airlines Flight 448, heading from Seattle to Los Angeles, had to do a quick turnaround after noises were heard coming from a cargo area. Upon landing back in Seattle, a ramp agent was found in the plane’s front cargo hold, which is pressurized and temperature controlled. The agent appeared to be OK, and was able to walk off the aircraft himself.

The Menzies Aviation employee told authorities he had fallen asleep in the cargo area of the plane.

The plane had been in the air for 14 minutes when the pilot heard the noises coming from beneath the aircraft.

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The man started work at 5 a.m. Monday and was due off at 2:30 p.m., the airline said in a statement. He had been part of a four-person team loading baggage onto the flight, which initially departed at 2:39 p.m.

Before the plane departed, the leader of the man’s team noticed he was missing, called into the cargo hold for him and called and texted the man’s cellphone but got no answer, the airline said. Co-workers decided he had finished his shift and gone home.

“The passengers in first class heard banging from underneath us and a person yelling for help,” passenger Jesse Sycuro told KING-TV of Seattle.

A short time later, passengers heard the announcement that the plane was going to turn around.

Zidar said Monday night he understood that both first-class passengers and the pilots heard the banging.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, spokesman Allen Kenitzer confirmed in an email. The airline said in a statement it is investigating the matter as well.

All ramp employees undergo full criminal background checks and drug checks before hiring and are subject to random drug tests during their employment, the airline statement said.

The plane carried 170 passengers and six crew members.

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The flight departed again at 3:52 p.m. and arrived at a terminal gate in Los Angeles at 6:29 p.m., more than an hour late, the airline said.

The accidental stowaway was taken to hospital as a precaution.

-with files from Associated Press