(NEW YORK) — Willa Junior, the baggage handler who fell asleep inside the cargo hold of an Alaska Airlines flight, said he didn’t expect to survive.
“In my mind I said, ‘This is not happening. This is just a joke,'” he said in an exclusive interview with ABC News.
The baggage handler said he woke up during the April 13 flight after a piece of luggage fell on his head.
Junior said he called his company, Menzies Aviation, and next called 911, but the call was cut after 44 seconds. So he started banging at the ceiling — so loud, that the plane’s passengers and crew could hear him.
“I was yelling, ‘Help me, somebody’s down here,’” he said.
Junior later texted his mother, expressing his worry and telling her that he loved her.
The plane, which was headed to Los Angeles, returned to Seattle after 14 minutes in the air.
At this point, Junior is still employed as a ramp agent with Menzies Aviation, which contracts with airlines to handle baggage. But Alaska Airlines permanently banned him from working on the airline’s flights.
Junior said he’s sorry for all the trouble he caused, especially for passengers whose plane was forced to turn around.
He said he learned a lesson, too.
“Don’t sleep on planes, or don’t doze off on a plane,” he said, “even though the job is hard, you know, stressful. Learn from my mistake.”
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