• The worker fell asleep inside a Mumbai-Abu Dhabi flight Sunday
  • The man realized his mistake only after the flight took off 
  • Two employees of the airlines have been sacked pending probe

In a bizarre incident, an airline worker, who fell asleep inside the cargo compartment of a plane, managed to survive despite the flight taking off to another country with him. He was flown back home on the same flight after a medical examination proved he was of sound health.

The incident happened Sunday on board an Airbus A 320 flight from the Indian state of Mumbai to the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, reported NDTV.

The man, whose identity has not been revealed, works as a loader with Indigo, a private carrier based in India. After the baggage loading was completed, one of the workers decided to take a break. "He relaxed in baggage compartment 1 but fell asleep behind the baggage. The cargo door was closed after the hold staff had marked the headcount," a senior official probing this lapse told The Times of India.

The cargo door was closed and the loader woke up as the aircraft took off from the Mumbai airport, the officials informed. The airlines learned of the worker’s presence only about two hours after take-off.

The flight landed at Abu Dhabi airport 3 hours 20 minutes later. After the incident came to light, the man was subjected to a thorough medical examination by the Abu Dhabi authorities. He was found to be stable and normal.

The man was sent back to Mumbai as a passenger on the same aircraft after getting the requisite clearances from the authorities in Abu Dhabi, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) officials said in a statement.

The DGCA has launched an investigation into the major security lapse, and four Indigo personnel have been taken off duty pending the investigation.

An IndiGo spokesperson told reporters that they were "aware of the incident and the requisite authorities have been informed." The matter is under investigation, a statement by the company read.

A similar incident was reported in Kansas City in 2018 after an admittedly intoxicated American Airline baggage handler fell asleep on the job and ended up flying from Kansas City to Chicago in the belly of a Boeing 737. The man, who works for the American subsidiary Piedmont Airlines at Kansas City International Airport, took a nap inside the cargo hold before the flight and wasn't discovered until the plane landed at O'Hare International Airport and parked at the gate.

IndiGo Airlines A320
Representation. An IndiGo aircraft. Reuters/Vivek Prakash