A baggage handler spent a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to northern Virginia locked inside the plane’s cargo hold Sunday afternoon.
At some point during United Express Flight 6060, someone notified the tower in Charlotte a man might be locked in the baggage compartment. That message was passed to the Federal Aviation Administration officials at Dulles International Airport, and Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire and Rescue crews met the small jet when it arrived at 4:16 p.m. after an hour-and-22-minute flight.
"It's going to be an apparent baggage handler that got locked in the baggage compartment," the dispatch call said. "It's going to be in the rear cargo area. Should have been pressurized. Unknown injuries at this time."
When he arrived, 45-year-old Reginald Gaskin was found unharmed in the pressurized, temperature-controlled space. He refused medical treatment.
Gaskin wore a Charlotte baggage handler’s uniform and had identification from baggage handling vendor G2 Secure Staff, but he said he left his airport ID in his locker at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, prompting a security concern. Police wanted to make sure he really was a baggage handler and not a stowaway.
“We're going to work it as a security incident until we can get some confirmation that he is who is even though he's in trade dress for a ramp worker in Charlotte,” someone said on emergency dispatch. “The flight crew doesn't remember seeing him or anything like that.”
United Airlines confirmed the incident in a statement Monday.
“Once at the gate, an employee of the airline's ground handling vendor was found unharmed in the aircraft's cargo hold,” the statement said. “We are looking into what happened.”
News4 emailed G2 Secure Staff for comment and is waiting for a reply.
It’s unclear how Gaskin became locked in the baggage compartment or how his presence there was discovered. United is investigating and wants to present an accurate account.
The FAA also is investigating.
"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 him back to Charlotte where he was back at work Tuesday.