TORONTO, CANADA (CNN) – It’s not rare to take a nap during a long flight, but one Canadian woman said she fell asleep on a plane and then woke up all alone, hours after touchdown.
The Air Canada plane was empty when Tiffani O’Brien woke up alone.
“Just a sheer sense of helplessness when you feel like you’re locked on this aircraft,” said O’Brien.
She was flying from Quebec City to Toronto’s Pearson Airport. She says she was in an empty row of seats and fell asleep, but when she woke up, everyone was gone.
“And it was completely pitch black. I thought this is a nightmare; this is not happening.”
Then she says in a panic she texted her friend Deanna Dale, who drove her to the airport, trying to explain what happened.
The friend texted back that she called Pearson customer service.
Dale told CTV News, “And I said her plane would have landed two hours ago. She texted me that she just woke up. I said I don’t know what’s going on, but she’s at the airport.”
O’Brien’s phone died. She says she began looking for ways to escape and was able to enter the cockpit. “I was so scared that I’m going to touch something that’s wrong, but I knew I had to do something and I found a flashlight and was so happy. That was like the best moment ever.”
Then O’Brien says she managed to open the door of the plane, but the drop to the tarmac was steep.
She was eventually rescued by ground crew.
Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs says this a rare occurrence, but it raises serious security concerns. “If this had happened to someone else who may have different intentions, injury could have resulted. The passenger had access to the cockpit and could have hypothetically turned on the aircraft. That would not have been a good thing to happen, to say the very least,” said Lukacs.
Air Canada confirms the incident, admitting the passenger was left on the aircraft after the flight and the aircraft had been parked. Air Canada is investigating but won’t provide details. O’Brien has hired a lawyer.