United Airlines Locks Sleeping Passenger in Plane

United Airlines Locks Sleeping Passenger in Plane

(AP) Passenger awakes to find himself locked in plane
By MICHAEL GRACZYK
Associated Press
HOUSTON
As the captain of an oil platform supply boat in the Gulf of Mexico, Tom Wagner is no stranger to bumps and other movement while he sleeps. So when he nodded off on a flight from Louisiana to Houston, it was no surprise that the landing bounce didn’t wake him.


He awoke to a traveler’s nightmare. He opened his eyes to a dark and locked plane parked at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport.


Wagner, 51, from Lafayette, La., who had a window seat near the back of the plane, said he didn’t panic.


But first, “I had to use the bathroom,” he said. “I was walking around, had to find the bathroom in the dark.”

Told he was fortunate the restroom door also wasn’t locked, he replied: “They would have had a mess to clean up.”

Then he picked up his cellphone and called his girlfriend, whom he described as “kind of a joker.”

She started laughing.


She called United Airlines in Lafayette, where Wagner had boarded United Express Flight 4245 on Friday evening to make a connection in Houston, and was told there was “no way” he was stuck on that plane.

Back on board, Wagner started walking around.


He reached the front of the aircraft.


Moments later, a couple of maintenance workers coincidentally opened the door and found Wagner there to greet them.


So he explained that he was a passenger who had been sleeping, and that he awoke to discover the lights off, the doors closed and everybody gone. One of the workers got on his radio and Wagner was escorted to the terminal. By then, he’d missed his connection to Los Angeles, although his checked bags made it. He spent the night at a motel near the Houston airport.

Regional carrier ExpressJet, operating the flight for United, said in a statement that it apologized to Wagner for the inconvenience and that the airline was investigating what happened.


Wagner, whose adventure first was reported by Houston television station KTRK, said the airline gave him a $250 voucher, picked up the motel bill and switched him Saturday to a more convenient flight to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif.


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Information from: KTRK-TV, http://abclocal.go.com

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