Intoxicated Baggage Handler Falls Asleep in Plane Cargo Hold and Flies to Chicago

A baggage handler at Kansas City International Airport took a nap in the cargo hold of an aircraft, but when he woke up, he wasn’t in Kanas anymore.
Ross Feinstein, a spokesperson for American Airlines, tells PEOPLE that on Oct. 27, a Piedmont Airlines employee was working an American Airlines flight that departed at 5:52 a.m. from the Kansas City Airport when he “inadvertently fell asleep in the forward cargo hold of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The flight subsequently took off with the team member in the cargo hold, which was heated and pressurized.”
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“The flight landed safely at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) at 7:09 a.m. CT and taxied to the gate,” Feinstein says in a statement. “The team member was then discovered upon arrival at the gate in Chicago.”
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The employee was in the cargo hold for the entire duration of the 62-minute long flight.
According to an airport source, because the flight was only halfway full (with 80 seats booked out of 160), they did not use the forward cargo doors, where the employee was found sleeping, to store luggage.
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Upon landing, the Chicago Police Department was notified of a person in an unauthorized area of the aircraft, Chief Communications Officer for the Chicago Police Department Anthony Guglielmi tells PEOPLE. The baggage handler was detained and questioned at the airport by the Chicago Police Department and the FBI.
He admitted to officials that he was intoxicated and had fallen asleep, Guglielmi says. Because no criminal charges and no unlawful activity took place in Chicago, the police department did not perform a breathalyzer test.
The baggage handler then flew back to Kansas City via another American Airlines flight.
Feinstein tells PEOPLE he has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.
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“Our top priority is ensuring the well-being of the Piedmont employee,” Feinstein says. “He did not request any medical attention upon arrival in Chicago, and we are grateful that he did not sustain any injuries. The American team is very concerned about this serious situation, and we are reviewing what transpired with our Piedmont and Kansas City colleagues.”

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