A baggage handler of IndiGo Airlines fell asleep in the cargo compartment of the Mumbai-Abu Dhabi flight but was lucky to come out unscathed when the plane landed at Abu Dhabi.
According to the safety regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the incident took place on flight 6E 1835, an Airbus A320 aircraft, that took off after 2.30am IST on Sunday.
The DGCA is probing this lapse and some IndiGo personnel as well as the loader have been taken off duty pending investigation.
The incident took place at the Mumbai airport. After baggage loading was completed, one of the loaders relaxed in the baggage compartment and felt asleep behind the piles of luggage. The door of the cargo hold was closed subsequently and the plane was given clearance for departure. The loader woke up only when the plane began to take off from Mumbai airport but there was nothing he could do to alert the authorities.
The man was detected when the plane landed at the Abu Dhabi airport and a medical examination was carried out. He was thankfully found to be physically stable and normal. After requisite clearance from Dubai, the man was sent back to Mumbai on the return flight as a passenger.
Since cargo holds are climate controlled and pressurized, it is possible for humans to survive inside it and it is highly unlikely that the person could overheat or freeze. But the highest risk in the hold comes from passenger luggage stashed inside. Objects that are not secure are liable to move around and can cause serious injuries.