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Airline locks sleeping man on plane

Airline investigators are looking into how a man got left behind and locked onboard a plane when everyone else left during a layover in Houston from Louisiana.

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Houston: A passenger who fell asleep while flying to Los Angeles says he awoke to discover himself alone and locked inside a dark, empty United Express plane in Houston.

Tom Wagner told Houston station KTRK-TV he was supposed to change planes Friday at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

But no staff noticed he was still sleeping in a window seat at the rear of the flight from Lafayette, Louisiana, before they closed up the jet.

I woke up and the lights are out and I was like 'what's going on?' 

"I woke up and the lights are out and I was like 'what's going on?' I thought maybe it's a layover, I was still on the same plane you know.

Wagner called his girlfriend who asked the airline to rescue him.

"She thought I was crazy," Wagner said. "I said 'Debbie, I'm locked on a plane'. She said, 'Tommy, stop!' I said 'I'm telling you true, you've got to call somebody and get me off this plane!'"

ExpressJet, which operates United Express in partnership with United Airlines, apologised on Saturday and said the incident is under investigation. It says crew conducted a post-flight walk-through.

Wagner received a $US250 ($275.25) flight voucher, was put up in a hotel and was flown to Orange County, California, on Saturday.

AP