A ramp agent — employed by Menzies Aviation — was still inside the cargo area.
He told authorities he had fallen asleep, according to Alaska Airlines.
Alaska Airlines officials said the employee started work at 5 a.m. and was scheduled to end his shift at 2:30 p.m.
During a team huddle, the leader noticed the employee was missing. The leader called into the cargo hold for the employee, called and texted the employee’s cellphone, but didn’t get a response. His co-workers believed he ended his shift and went home.
According to officials, the employee passed a drug test Monday afternoon.
“He told first responders who spoke with him that he boarded the cargo hold and was taking a nap prior to the aircraft taking off,” said Bobbie Egan, Alaska Airlines spokesperson.
According to Egan, “Immediately after take-off, the pilot of Alaska Airlines Flight 448, bound for Los Angeles, reported hearing banging from beneath the aircraft.”
Fire and police officials responded to the airport shortly before 3 p.m.
“The aircraft was in the air for 14 minutes. After landing, a ramp agent was found inside the front cargo hold, which is pressurized and temperature controlled. The ramp agent appeared okay, and was transported to the hospital as a precaution,” wrote Alaska Airlines on its blog.
There were 170 passengers and six crew members on Flight 448, which landed in Los Angeles around 6:20 p.m.