Oops: Baggage Handler Falls Asleep In Airplane Cargo Hold, Wakes Up Inflight

Oops: Baggage Handler Falls Asleep In Airplane Cargo Hold, Wakes Up Inflight

32

I’m not sure whether to be surprised that this happened, or be surprised that this doesn’t happen more often

IndiGo ramper falls asleep inside cargo hold

Sunday’s IndiGo flight from Mumbai (BOM) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) carried one more passenger than expected. According to reports, one of the baggage handlers fell asleep in the cargo compartment while bags were being loaded.

I guess none of his colleagues realized he was missing, because the plane was sent on its way with him in the hold, and he only woke up after the flight had taken off. He was discovered upon arrival in Abu Dhabi. At that point the unintentional traveler was subjected to a medical examination. After he was found to be in good health, he was sent on the next flight back to Mumbai as a passenger.

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is conducting an investigation into the incident, and those involved in the incident have been put on leave pending the investigation (I’m not sure if this just includes the person who inadvertently ended up on the flight to Abu Dhabi, or also his colleagues).

What’s the process in place to prevent this?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is curious about this, and collectively OMAAT readers know just about everything, so…

On the one hand, I would think there’s no need to have a procedure in place to make sure no one falls asleep in a cargo hold, since that doesn’t exactly seem like the most relaxing place to take a nap. Then again, that probably just reflects my own challenges sleeping in anything other than a bed in a dark room with the right temperature. Some people can conk out anywhere, and I’m kind of jealous.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen the door closed on a ramper inside the cargo hold, so does anyone have an understanding of what processes are in place to prevent this?

  • Is there some sort of a “roll call” when a flight’s cargo hold finishes being loaded, to ensure everyone involved is also off the plane?
  • Is someone supposed to go into the cargo hold and look around to be sure no one is left behind?
  • Or do they just hope for the best, and assume that no one could possibly fall asleep and not wake up until after the door closes?

Bottom line

On Sunday an airport baggage handler ended up falling asleep inside the cargo hold of an IndiGo plane bound for Abu Dhabi. He only ended up waking up after the plane took off (or at a minimum after the door was closed and there was no way to get in touch with anyone), so he flew all the way to UAE.

Upon arriving there he had a health check, and he was fortunately in good condition, so he was put on the next flight back to Mumbai. An investigation is now being conducted into the incident.

If anyone has any insights as to how this is possible, I’d sure love to learn more!

Conversations (32)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. Drew Guest

    But he flew for free!

  2. Bob Danley Guest

    Rampers will cat nap in the bins. Sometimes you have everything done. and you're waiting for the close out bags to get to the airplane....so it's snooze time. I've never heard of this instance before though. It's dangerous. Not sure about every aircraft type, but on some of them only the forward bin is pressurized. Fall asleep in the aft bin. and you likely won't make it. Still...a ramp team is usually four or five...

    Rampers will cat nap in the bins. Sometimes you have everything done. and you're waiting for the close out bags to get to the airplane....so it's snooze time. I've never heard of this instance before though. It's dangerous. Not sure about every aircraft type, but on some of them only the forward bin is pressurized. Fall asleep in the aft bin. and you likely won't make it. Still...a ramp team is usually four or five people (Allegiant uses three). So if someone isn't accounted for at push back time you'd know it.

  3. Cynthia pittman Guest

    Email me I was a director for fedex's ramp for years I can tell you exactly how this can happen and how it should never happen [email protected]

  4. Rey Aquino Guest

    1. Send sniffing dog to check.
    2. Sound a 140 dB siren before closing the door.
    3. Charge the offending employee a round-trip fare. (with employee discount)
    4. Don’t let sleepy or drunk employee to work in that area.
    5. Fire the employee’s supervisor for mismanagement.

  5. Born in Brooklyn Guest

    It's not quite the same but at large New York fires, the command post has a magnetic board and individual magnets for each fire fighter assigned to the fire. When one is assigned to go inside, the magnet is moved to show where they've been sent. When they come out, it's moved out. That's how they assure that no one is ever left behind or unaccounted for. I assume something similar is practiced at fire departments around the world.

  6. Carlos Ahaka Guest

    Chai...what a funny trip. He should be medically examined properly, because it looks very strange.

  7. Jim Wall Guest

    I loaded planes for 35 years, and it is very easy to doze off. The APU is like white noise, the bin is often warm and the air a little "stuffy". If it is summer, and you have been going from flight to flight, fatigue sets in. And often, you end up inside the bin waiting for last minute things to load,or between loads. Maybe those last items do not arrive, the flight departure is...

    I loaded planes for 35 years, and it is very easy to doze off. The APU is like white noise, the bin is often warm and the air a little "stuffy". If it is summer, and you have been going from flight to flight, fatigue sets in. And often, you end up inside the bin waiting for last minute things to load,or between loads. Maybe those last items do not arrive, the flight departure is minutes away, and everyone is hustling to close up the doors and push on time. The assumption might be all members of the team are required to stay with the plane. We may have had 4, or 5 rampers for a flight, but only 3 are needed for the pushback. All too often the slackers would drift off to the breakroom or need to use the bathroom 5 minutes before the plane pushed,and never resurface. So the idea of a headcount is not realistic.
    One other possibility- the sleeper might well be the laziest person on the team, and his coworkers have been doing the lions share of the work while he showed up late and left early for flights, and even while there did the barest minimum, often dozing off in one bin while everyone else loaded the other bin. Someone might have been fed up and just closed the bin door, hoping to scare him, or someone doing a walk around saw the door open and no belt loader present and closed the door and moved on.
    I worked with 1 guy who worked as many extra shifts as he could. He could pull a belt loader up waiting for a 757 to taxi in, fall asleep sitting there, and sleep thru the plane taxiing up the J line to the gate.

    1. Bob Danley Guest

      Well put. Seen these things happen too.

  8. Aviator Guest

    I have worked with baggage handlers. They get paid minimum wages... sometimes have to pay for their own background checks... getting to the airport usually takes a minimum of an hour and a half. Then they try to do a double or a triple shift to make it worth it for them. Well if there is a delay and it's raining outside they may just be tempted to close their eyes after loading the bags.

  9. SUNNY Guest

    Hey! These aren't the upgrades I paid for!
    Where's the good seats????

    1. Shawn Guest

      For a flight out of India the cargo hold is the good seats.

    2. Erik Guest

      This is probably the most ignorant comment I show here. But then again pretty much many who haven’t travelled to Asia generally lacks any credibility of an opinion on such topic.For somebody who has flown to india many times both for business and leisure, I can more then assure you there are many comfy flights and in part Indigo is one airline which is leagues ahead of many LCC/ULCC in US and Europe

  10. Bekzod Kholmakhamatov Guest

    Wife: where have you been last night!
    Husband: in Abu Dhabi.

  11. Colfen Guest

    A total lack of safety procedures.
    Should be procedures for loading and unloading. Where was the workers supervisor. There are many reasons why this could have happened.

  12. Jacob Guest

    As an ex operations agent for Delta, he was lucky to be in the “conditioned” cargo hold. On most aircraft one of the holds is pressurized and heated and the others are not. That hold is used for transporting animals, not usually persons!

  13. Tia Guest

    When luggage is loaded, it does not always come in 1 stream. People drop off luggage at different times too. A tik tok video showed how they work, arranging luggage like puzzles and there is a time in between that is just waiting for more luggage to come. He Probably dosed off in between...

    1. Brian Dunbar Guest

      Doesn't make sense. Someone has to do up the netting in a bulk loaded aircraft and that is usually the guy that is in the hold. The lead hand gives the word to close it up. If someone else went up to do up the netting and close the door, they would have to see them. I always knew where my crew members were so I have never understood how this happens.

  14. Victoria M Guest

    Do cargo holds have oxygen? How would you survive…I thought only the ones for animals were survivable.

    1. Dan Berend Guest

      The cargo holds are pressurized just the same as the cabin. Think of it like a scuba tank with a flimsy floor separating the upper and lower sections. They can get significantly cooler though because of little or no insulation.

  15. Shaheed Hasan Guest

    Come on people..give him a benefit of doubt. Before making all kinds of complecated theories, think it straight. There could be a very simple explanation.. HE DID FALL IN SLEEP.

  16. SS Guest

    Considering the steep fares currently on the BOM-DXB sector plus the pre departure RTPCR and the expensive Rapid PCR tests this was probably the best option for him to land in UAE! Unlike western countries the UAE do not take other peoples problems on their shoulders so they just put him back on the next flight to BOM.

  17. Europhile Guest

    Reminds me of the guy who got so drunk he passed out on the tracks of an active railroad line. A train went over him and -- because he was so drunk and unconscious -- he didn't wake up until the train had passed. He was unharmed. If he had not been so drunk be likely would have panicked, tried to move, and gotten killed. This was reported several years ago.

  18. Kylie P Guest

    Wouldn't he die due to lack of oxygen or freezing temps?

    1. Brianair737 Guest

      He wouldn’t because the cargo holds are normally pressurized (at least on Indigo’s planes which are all A320 family). That’s why he walked off the plane in Abu Dhabi perfectly fine.

  19. Never In Doubt Guest

    Intentionally hid, or drunk/otherwise impaired.

    Nobody does that “accidentally”.

  20. Doug Guest

    I predict we will find that he intentionally hid in the cargo hold, but then fell asleep during the flight and was caught upon arrival. He probably was hoping he could hop another airline at Abu Dhabi, or he might have family he was trying to visit.

  21. MD Guest

    The guy should be lucky he wasn't in the forward two cargo holds on a MD-80 - he would have arrived in Abu Dhabi as an icicle

  22. Eskimo Guest

    Climate control cargo hold vs Mumbai pollution and heat?

    Not surprised if anyone would fall asleep in it.

    Now that's what I call sleeping on the job can take you places.

  23. Always Flying Somewhere Guest

    I don't know how any sober Ramp Agent could fall asleep considering all the activity during a turn. As an LCC narrow-body, I'd expect it to have a short ground time, so I'm not sure when you'd have a moment to curl up and close your eyes. This is safety and security issue.

  24. Ramp Stupidvisor Guest

    When I worked as a “ramp stupidvisor” for American in LAX, there were two baggage handlers that got locked into the cargo hold of a 757. They banged on the walls/ceiling and the aircraft didn’t take off and returned to the gate. Perpetrators were “fired” but got their jobs back through grievance process. Hated that job. Left LAX and the ramp.

  25. Ray Guest

    Alarming security issue if you ask me. This time around, it was harmless. Next up, you could be smuggling a person or worse.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Drew Guest

But he flew for free!

0
Bob Danley Guest

Well put. Seen these things happen too.

0
Bob Danley Guest

Rampers will cat nap in the bins. Sometimes you have everything done. and you're waiting for the close out bags to get to the airplane....so it's snooze time. I've never heard of this instance before though. It's dangerous. Not sure about every aircraft type, but on some of them only the forward bin is pressurized. Fall asleep in the aft bin. and you likely won't make it. Still...a ramp team is usually four or five people (Allegiant uses three). So if someone isn't accounted for at push back time you'd know it.

0
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT
  • September 16, 2022
  • Ben Schlappig
12
Nigeria Air Closer To Launching… Maybe?
  • September 6, 2022
  • Ben Schlappig
26
What Are Fifth Freedom Flights?