TODAY   |  December 09, 2013

‘I’m locked in the plane’: Man’s layover worst ever

Investigators are trying to find out how a man who fell asleep during a United Airlines flight, only to wake up and find himself trapped and alone on the plane, was not noticed by any of the crew members. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>> one. have you ever fallen asleep and wake up confused about where you are? wait until you hear what happened to one guy that fell asleep in houston . janet picks up the story from bush continental airport. good morning to you.

>> reporter: yeah, this one, matt, is hard to believe. we're all familiar with the pitfalls of air travel . everything from long security lines, delayed flights, lost luggage, but this is hard to top. talk about the worst lay over area. this man is in his connecting city, houston . but when he wakes up on the plane, it's dark, he's alone and the plane is locked. wagner , a louisiana boat captain boarded a united express flight to houston friday on his way to los angeles . wagner says he took his seat and fell asleep. he woke up in houston to an unusual sight.

>> i woke up and i looked up at the ceiling and lights were out and looked down the aisle and nobody was home.

>> reporter: he tried the plane's door to find it locked and then used his cell phone to call his girlfriend who thought he was joking.

>> she started laughing. i said you have to call united and get me off the plane.

>> reporter: his girlfriend called the airline.

>> she says my boyfriend is on the airplane and you have to get somebody to get him off. and they said there's no way he's on the plane.

>> reporter: after a half hour, wagner says maintenance workers opened the door and were shocked to find him inside.

>> they said where are your bags? i said i don't work here. i'm a passenger on this airplane. and he said hold on. hold on. he didn't believe it.

>> reporter: they offered him a $250 voucher and hotel room in houston for the night. the company, express jet issued a statement saying express jet is investigating to determine how this occurred. we apologize for the inconvenience this caused for the passenger.

>> it's obvious in this case that the crew exiting the airplane didn't do a sweep.

>> i don't know how it happened. i don't. passengers got off. you would think somebody would have rubbed me or pushed me and said, hey, we're here.

>> reporter: yeah, you have to wonder why none of his fellow passengers gave this guy a little nudge. but wagner says he will be returning to louisiana soon on united express connecting here in houston and just as a precaution, he's going to be well rested this time.

>> that's a good idea. janet, thank you very much. pretty understanding girlfriend if she fell for the old i fell asleep and got locked on the plane --

>> get in a little trouble there. problems in paradise.

>> she probably knows he's tough to wake up i would imagine.

>> although the voucher for the hotel room was a waste.

>> natalie said i'll have what