Dispatcher puzzled by 911 call from trapped baggage worker
DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP
Apr. 17, 2015
SEATTLE (AP) — A 911 dispatcher seemed understandably confused by the call from a baggage handler who fell asleep inside the cargo hold of an Alaska Airlines jet bound for Los Angeles and said he needed someone to stop the plane.
"I'm inside a plane, and I feel like it's moving in the air. Flight 448. Can you please have somebody stop it?" the airport worker said in a recording of the call made on Monday. The recording was released Thursday.
The dispatcher 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 ceiling of the cargo hold and was heard by pilots and first-class passengers.
The pilots quickly returned to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The plane was in the air just 14 minutes.
In a brief statement Thursday evening, the airline said the Menzies worker "has been permanently banned from ever working on any Alaska Airlines flights." The airline did not elaborate.
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.