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A Travel Nightmare: Waking Up Cold And Alone In A Darkened Plane

An Air Canada jet at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
Daniel Slim
AFP/Getty Images
An Air Canada jet at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto.

Ever had a nightmare in which you wake up at night, alone, strapped in a seat in a completely dark and freezing cold room with no means to contact anyone?

That's the story Air Canada passenger Tiffani Adams told about what was supposed to be a simple 90-minute flight from Quebec City to Toronto Pearson International Airport earlier this month.

Her account was posted on the airline's Facebook page by her friend Deanna Noel-Dale.

Adams, who has since been experiencing anxiety and insomnia, wrote that she fell asleep in a row of seats on a nearly empty flight, and by the time she woke up the plane had arrived at its destination and had been parked away from the nearest terminal.

Her cellphone battery was depleted, therefore useless, and there was no power on the plane to recharge it.

No one else was on the pitch-black plane.

Adams made her way to the cockpit, where she eventually found a flashlight. The light helped her figure out how to open the main exit door. But there was no gangway, so she was staring at what she said was a 40 to 50 foot drop to the ground, hardly an attractive means of escape.

She focused the flashlight on the plane's exterior, hoping that the reflection might catch someone's attention. In time, the driver of a luggage cart came to her rescue.

Adams said Air Canada representatives offered her a ride home and then called her twice to apologize and say they've launched an investigation into how she was missed by the plane's crew when everyone else got off the flight in Toronto.

She says she's still recovering. "I haven't got much sleep since the reoccurring night terrors and waking up anxious and afraid I'm alone locked up someplace dark," she wrote.

A representative for Air Canada confirmed Adams' account, adding they "remain in contact with her."

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Corrected: June 22, 2019 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story reported the passenger's name as Deanna Noel-Dale. In fact, Tiffani Adams was the passenger; Noel-Dale says she posted Adams' account on her behalf.
Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.