A baggage handler found himself locked inside the cargo hold of a regional flight New Year’s Day, and was an unwilling guest on a ride from Charlotte, North Carolina to Dulles International Airport outside of Washington D.C.
United Airlines Flight 6060 took off from Charlotte-Douglass International Airport at 3 p.m. Eastern time Sunday, and landed at Dulles at 4:16 p.m. At some point during the flight, the tower in Charlotte was notified that a man may be locked in the cargo hold of the plane. The message was relayed to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Rescue personnel met the plane upon landing, and discovered 45-year-old Reginald Gaskin amazingly unharmed.
The cargo hold was pressurized and temperature controlled, and Gaskin refused medical treatment. He had his baggage handler uniform on and had his staff security identification, but claimed that he left his airport ID at his locker in Charlotte. The lack of full identification prompted officials to investigate further to ensure he was who he said he was.
“Typically, a three-person crew works together to load the baggage compartment,” Paul Thompson, a veteran ramp agent at Denver International Airport told CNN.
Thompson told CNN that workers often find themselves waiting for passenger bags to show up, often from a connecting flight, creating a 10 to 15 minute break where a worker may fall asleep while inside the compartment. “That’s the mostly likely scenario that would result in a baggage handler being left in the baggage compartment – them falling asleep,” he surmised.
United Airlines and the FAA are both investigating the incident. “We’ll determine whether the baggage contractor has proper procedures to ensure all personnel are out of the cargo hold before the doors are closed and whether the company was following them,” the FAA said in a statement.
United flew Gaskin back to Charlotte Tuesday, where he immediately resumed work, according to NBC4 Washington.
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