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Passenger Hears Thumps Beneath His Seat; Has Man Rescued from Cargo Bay

February 26, 1987

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ A passenger heard insistent thumping sounds beneath his airplane seat as the craft taxied for takeoff from Atlanta, went forward and persuaded the pilot to stop, and a baggage handler was pulled from the cargo bay.

Dan Nelson said he stomped his feet three times upon hearing the thumping from beneath the floor of the Eastern Airlines jet bound for Minneapolis from Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport on Monday, and heard three return thumps.

″I got attention from the other (passengers) and they agreed there was somebody down there,″ said Nelson, 55, a national sales manager for the Maplewood-based 3M Co.

Nelson said he went up front and spoke to attendants. The cockpit door was open and ″the pilots stuck their heads out and said, ‘You’re serious,’ and I said, ’I am serious,‴ he said.

One of the pilots went back and heard the pounding, said Nelson.

A service truck came out and retrieved the handler, he said.

Karen Ceremsak, an Eastern Airlines spokeswoman in Miami, said the baggage handler, whom she would not identify, was in the compartment for about 10 minutes.

″It was not a safe situation,″ she added.

The handler had climbed deep into the compartment to await more baggage, but everything had been loaded. ″He was not within visible sight of the doorway ... a ramp serviceman came by and closed the door,″ said Ceremsak.

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