"That's the norm for me," Wagner said. "A little jolt wouldn't bother me."
The more perplexing revelation came when 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 Monday 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, from Lafayette, La., who had a window seat near the back of the plane, said he didn't panic.
"I had a little smile: I've got to get off here," he said.
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.
"Get me off this plane!" Wagner implored. "Stop laughing. It's getting cold."
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.
"This is crazy stuff," he told himself.
He reached the front of the aircraft.
"I grabbed the (entrance door) lever," Wagner said. "I thought: I better not do that. Let them get me of the plane. So many things go through your head."
Moments later, a couple of maintenance workers coincidentally opened the door and found Wagner there to greet them.
"What are you doing on this plane?" he said they demanded. "Where's your badge?"
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.
"Could have been worse," Wagner said. "What if I was dead? How do you explain that the next morning? They found a dead body on the plane."
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.
"When we landed, they called my name on the P.A.," he said. "I said: `Yeah, I'm over here."'
More Nation & World Headlines
Inmates slip away en route to halfway houses World Bank trims East Asia growth forecasts Doctors Without Borders leaves Afghan city after hospital airstrike Historic South Carolina floods: Heavy rain, hundreds rescued Debris spotted as crews search for ship lost off Bahamas San Francisco’s last gun store closing doors for good Police officers’ names still secret 3 years after shooting Tip of the iceberg: No end in sight to migrant wave
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.