Baggage handler falls asleep in plane’s cargo hold in Kansas City, wakes up in Chicago

CHICAGO — Falling asleep at your job might just get you a slap on the wrist. An airline employee did it and got a free ride to Chicago.

The 27-year-old ramp service employee for Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines, was working on a Boeing 737-800 at Kansas City International Airport, according to Chicago Police.

It was early morning on Saturday when police say he inadvertently fell asleep. In the plane’s cargo hold.

The hold was heated and pressurized, so the employee — who police did not identify — wasn’t apparently in any major discomfort after the plane took off.

American Airlines says their aircraft touched down at Chicago O’Hare Airport around 7:09 a.m., bringing the accidental stowaway along.

Police say the employee was not injured and has not been charged in the incident. However, he has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation, according to the airline.

“Our top priority is ensuring the well-being of the Piedmont employee. He did not request any medical attention upon arrival in Chicago, and we are grateful that he did not sustain any injuries,” said a spokesperson for the airline. “The American team is very concerned about this serious situation, and we are reviewing what transpired with our Piedmont and Kansas City colleagues.”

Such incidents are rare but not unheard of. In 2017 a baggage handler accidentally flew from Charlotte to Washington, D.C. on a United Airlines plane after getting locked in the cargo hold.

Chicago Police said Thursday that arrangements were made to send the Piedmont Airlines employee back to Kansas City. This time, hopefully, in the main cabin.

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