A man was left on a plane after dozing off during a connecting flight on Friday, waking up to find himself alone and locked inside a darkened cabin.
"I woke up and the lights were out. I was like, what's going on?" Tom Wagner, a Louisiana boat captain, told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston
. "I thought maybe it was a layover, still on the same plane."
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Wagner said he had fallen asleep on a United Airlines flight from Louisiana to Los Angeles that had a stopover in Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport.
"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 recalled to KTRK-TV.
In a separate interview with NBC's Today show
, Wagner said his girlfriend began laughing when she initially received his call, yet called the airline immediately after hanging up with him.
"She says, 'My boyfriend's on that airplane, you gotta get someone to get him off,'" Wagner told NBC News. "And he said, 'Ma'am, we sweep those planes. There's no way he's on that plane.'"
Thirty minutes after Wagner called his girlfriend, maintenance workers appeared at the plane's door and were shocked to find him on the other side.
"They said, 'Where's your badge?'" Wagner told NBC News. "I said, 'Dude, I don't work here, I'm a passenger on this airplane.' And he said 'Hold on, hold on.' He didn't believe it."
On Saturday, ExpressJet, the company that operated the United flight, issued a statement to "Today" that read in part, "ExpressJet is investigating to determine how this occurred. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this caused for the passenger."
Wagner couldn't understand how the airline locked the flight without first doing at the very least a walkthrough to make sure there were no passengers still onboard, or for that matter why his fellow passengers didn't wake him as they walked by him sleeping.
"I just don't know how it happened, I really don't," he said. "I mean, passengers get off, you'd think somebody would have rubbed me or pushed me and said, 'Hey buddy, we're here.'"
"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 told ABC News.
For his trouble, Wagner received a free night in a nearby hotel paid for by the airline and a free amenities package that included a $250 voucher that can be used on a future flight.
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