loaded and undeclared .38-caliber handgun tumbled from a checked bag at Los Angeles International Airport last weekend, prompting police to detain the gun owner temporarily.

A luggage ramp crew discovered the weapon after it fell from an unzipped compartment in a duffel bag they were loading onto Alaska Airlines Flight 563, according to police and the airlines. The plane was leaving the terminal at 8:15 a.m. Sunday, bound for Portland, Ore.

Workers called Los Angeles Airport Police to report the discovery. The owner of the gun was questioned at the Los Angeles Police Department's Pacific station and was allowed to board a later flight to Portland. The gun was turned over to Los Angeles police, the sources said.

Guns are allowed in locked containers in checked bags, but they are not allowed to be loaded, and passengers are required to notify the airline. The traveler hadn't done that, according to the Transportation Security Administration and Alaska Airlines.

The traveler told authorities he had flown out of Portland with the same bag, with the gun inside, three days earlier. It was not clear whether he had notified the airline about the gun that time.