We’ve all done it before. Maybe it’s a bus, a train, or a plane, but after getting settled in for a long journey, we’re tired after a long day and can’t help but close our eyes for a few minutes.
The worst that can usually happen is missing your stop on the bus or train, but at least on a plane you have the other passengers and flight attendants to make sure you wake up when you’ve arrived at your destination.
Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to go.
But for St. Thomas, Ontario, woman Tiffani O’Brien, who was returning home earlier this month after a fun weekend in Quebec City with her friend Deanna Nole-Dale, things didn’t go how they should have. Though the flight was only 90 minutes, O’Brien ended up staying on the plane much longer.
“I woke up and it was in the middle of the night, around midnight, alone and it was completely pitch black,” she told CBC News. Obviously, this kind of situation would put anyone on edge. As O’Brien said, “I went through a couple panic attacks, calmed myself down, still thinking ‘Is this really happening? How can this be happening?'”
Meanwhile, O’Brien was well and truly trapped, as the rest of the passengers had deplaned and the pilot and flight attendants had all gotten off as well. As she described her situation on Facebook on her friend Deanna Nole-Dale’s page, “I wake up around midnight (few hours after flight landed) freezing cold still strapped in my seat 💺 in complete darkness.”
For someone like her who suffers from issues with anxiety, this was truly a nightmare.
Sharing for my friend Tiffani AdamsAnother sleepless night for moi unfortunately insomnia doesn’t care that I work in…
“It’s just a sheer sense of helplessness where you feel like you’re locked on this aircraft,” she told ABC News. Her first priority was to get help.
As O’Brien told CTV News, “my phone had several messages that I missed because I told [Deeana] I’d text her when I land.” Their message thread expresses the panic that O’Brien or anyone else in the situation would feel in such a terrifying scenario.
Tiffani O’Brien: “I just woke up alone in [the] plane. Omg.”
Deanna Nole-Dale: “What?!!! You should almost be home!!! Nobody woke you up?!! Wtf??!!! Can you get off???!!!”
Unfortunately, soon after, Tiffani’s phone died and she was even more scared and isolated. Though she knew that her friend had contacted the customer service line at Pearson International Airport, she had no idea how quickly help would arrive or if there was any other way to get off the plane.
"It's just a sheer sense of helplessness."A passenger who fell asleep on a flight was terrified when she woke up hours later in a pitch black empty plane with the crew disembarked, and was able to access the cockpit before being rescued. https://abcn.ws/2NcDZjv
ABC News စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၉၊ ဇွန် ၂၄၊ တနင်္လာနေ့
While O’Brien desperately tried to find USB ports to charge her phone and reestablish contact with Nole-Dale, as the plane was completely powered off, she was out of luck. The same was true when she needed to use the bathroom without any lights.
Finally, she ventured into the cockpit and found at least one piece of hope: a flashlight. “That was the best moment ever,” she said to ABC. She used the flashlight to attempt to make an S.O.S. signal to the terminal, but still no help had arrived.
Just when she had given up hope, she was able to open the side door next to the cockpit, realizing how far down to the ground she would have to jump. Thankfully, a ground team arrived in the nick of time and was able to help her get down safely.
Air Canada continues to investigate how crew members could have disembarked from a plane without noticing a sleeping passenger who was still on board, an incident experts say raises serious security issues.
While Air Canada has been in contact with O’Brien, there’s no word yet how the airline intends to compensate her for this incredible oversight.
When some people online questioned O’Brien’s responses, not understanding why she didn’t simply call 911 the moment she woke up, her friend Noel-Dale asked readers to imagine how distressing this would have been for anyone.
“What if it was someone who was in a diabetic coma? Or had a heart attack? IT COULD HAVE BEEN A DEAD BODY that was discovered the next morning!!!! This could have been YOUR friend or relative or even YOU!” she wrote on her Facebook page.
A powerful message that people on the internet along with Air Canada and other airlines will hopefully hear!
A woman from St. Thomas, Ont. says she woke up inside an Air Canada flight that was left parked for the night at Toronto Pearson International Airport.