Drunk American Airlines Baggage Handler Spends Flight Asleep in Cargo Hold
A drunk baggage handler for American Airlines subsidiary carrier Piedmont Airlines was an accidental stowaway on a flight to Chicago after he took a nap in the plane's cargo hold.
The worker was loading bags onto flight AA 363 at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) on Saturday Oct. 27. He was working the luggage ramp when he decided to sneak into the cargo hold of the Boeing 737-800 for a nap.
No one noticed that the unidentified man was missing from his work post — or that he was in the belly of the aircraft — because the plane took off with the employee still in the cargo hold at 5:52am local time. He wasn't discovered until after the hour-long flight, when the plane parked at its gate at O'Hare (ORD) at about 7:30am local time.
USA Today reports that the man was interviewed by the Chicago Police Department, the FBI and the US Attorney's Office — a normal procedure in aviation security incidents. Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told USA Today that the man told law enforcement he was drunk and accidentally fell asleep in the plane's cargo hold. The man wasn't charged with a crime, and he was flown back to MCI on another American flight.
“Our top priority is ensuring the well-being of the Piedmont employee," an American representative told TPG in an email. "He did not request any medical attention upon arrival in Chicago, and we are grateful that he did not sustain any injuries," the spokesperson continued, noting that the hold was pressurized and heated. “The American team is very concerned about this serious situation, and we are reviewing what transpired with our Piedmont and Kansas City colleagues.”
Baggage handlers falling asleep in the cargo hold is not an uncommon occurrence. A baggage handler for a United Express plane was stuck in the cargo hold on a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT) to Washington Dulles (IAD). And pilots turned around an Alaska flight in 2015 after both passengers and crew heard a trapped baggage handler banging on the cargo hold ceiling. Most accidental stowaways go unharmed because aircraft cargo holds are heated and pressurized.