An American man who dozed off during a flight woke to find the plane locked and empty.
Tom Wagner told ABC13 Eyewitness News in Houston, Texas how he woke to find the lights out and no one else on board.
"I was coming from Louisiana to see my sister in California. We had a layover in Texas," Wagner said.
"I just took my hat off and I took a nap.
"I woke up and the lights were out. I was like, what's going on? I thought maybe it was a layover, still on the same plane."
He was left all alone at the back of the ExpressJet plane, with none of the other passengers, or the flight crew, noticing he was still on board.
"They didn't sweep the plane," Wagner said. "I mean, who shut the door?"
He initially thought he was dreaming but then made a frantic call to his girlfriend who thought he was joking.
"I called my girlfriend, and she thought I was crazy. I said, 'Debbie I'm locked on the plane.' I said, 'I'm telling you the truth; you better go somewhere and get me off this plane'."
Wagner said his girlfriend called the airline and half an hour later workers came aboard and were stunned to find the lone passenger.
"I said, 'Don't put the blame on me. I didn't do anything wrong here.' And then they were, like, try to hush-hush, keep it quiet. And they gave me this little package here in a motel room."
Wagner missed his connecting flight, but United Express got him to his destination in California.
They did not refund his ticket, but they did put him up in a hotel room and gave him a US$250 voucher.
United Express, ExpressJet's parent company, was investigating how this could this happen.
ExpressJet issued a statement saying "An ExpressJet passenger remained on board flight 4245, operating as United Express from Lafayette, Louisiana to Houston on Friday, Dec. 6, after all passengers had deplaned. ExpressJet is investigating to determine how this occurred. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this caused for the passenger."
The airline said there was a post-flight walk-through that was done, but the company couldn't explain how they missed Wagner.
United Express had a similar incident in 2010 when a woman in Philadelphia was left on a plane for hours.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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