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.
"That's the norm for me," Wagner said. "A little jolt wouldn't bother me."
He awoke to a traveler's nightmare. He opened his eyes to a dark and locked plane parked at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport.
"I looked down the aisle, there was nobody on the plane," Wagner said yesterday from California, where he's visiting his sister. "It was locked up. Lights were off. No motors running. It was like it was secured for the night."
Wagner, 51, of Lafayette, La., who had a window seat near the back of the plane, said he didn't panic.
He picked up his cellphone and called his girlfriend, whom he described as "kind of a joker."
She started to laugh.
"Get me off this plane!" Wagner implored. "Stop laughing. It's getting cold."
She called United Airlines in Lafayette, where Wagner had boarded, and was told there was "no way" he was stuck on that plane.
Moments later, a couple of maintenance workers coincidentally opened the door and found Wagner there to greet them.