Tom Wagner was on a flight from Louisiana to California last week, but he had a layover in Houston. He decided during his first leg to take off his hat and settle in for a nap, a normal thing for anyone on a long flight to do. But what happened when he woke up was anything but normal: he noticed he wasn’t heading off the jetway into Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport.
No, instead he was trapped on a dark, cold and empty plane.
“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,” Wagner told KTRK-TV of the incident that occurred Friday on his United Express flight.
Somehow Wagner was overlooked by staff and left on the plane.
Wagner told the news station he thought he was dreaming at first. When he called his girlfriend, she thought he was joking.
“An ExpressJet passenger remained on board flight 4245, operating as United Express from Lafayette, La. to Houston on Friday, Dec. 6, after all passengers had deplaned,” ExpressJet, a company partnered with United to operate flights, said in a statement, according to KTRK. “ExpressJet is investigating to determine how this occurred. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this caused for the passenger.”
Watch KTRK’s report:
For James Conway, a former FBI agent and expert in counterterrorism, the incident is disturbing.
“If an individual is going to be missed, what about a package or a backpack or a piece of luggage that could pose a threat to the aircraft on the next flight?” Conway told KTRK.
Wagner, on the other hand, brought it even closer to home, wondering what would have happened if he had suffered a health issue.
“What if I had a medical condition or something? What if I had a heart attack and I was dead? You just shut the plane and leave someone on there? It’s the way I look at it,” Wagner said.
It took about a half hour for Wagner to be rescued after he woke up, according to KTRK.
While he obviously missed his connection, he did eventually make it to his final destination in California, after he was put up in a hotel and issued a $250 United voucher for his trouble.
Featured image via Shutterstock.