There's nothing worse than someone hogging the airplane toilet on a long flight. Unless you are that someone, and you're stuck in that tiny cubicle for hours.

On Wednesday, this dire scenario happened on a United flight from Washington DC to San Francisco.

Midway over the states one traveller went to use the WC and never returned.

On discovery cabin crew tried to assist the person out of the locked toilet, to no avail.

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To the morbid embarrassment of the trapped traveller and general bemusement of the cabin it was announced they would be diverting to the nearest airport for help.

Having departed Washington at 5:49pm EDT, it touched down at Denver Airport at 7:21pm MDT.

"The passenger was safely removed from the lavatory after landing, and customers have since continued on to their destination on a new aircraft," the airline told USA Today in a statement.

"We are reaching out to all customers onboard and the customer in the lavatory to apologise."

However some passengers saw the funny side of their diversion.

As one passenger on the flight, Todd Wagner tweeted "I've been on many flights but this is a new one. Bring on the bathroom humour."

Explaining the scene on the ground, Wagner further tweeted: "Five burly Denver fire guys just got the woman out. The plane erupted in applause. The woman looks mortified."