How One Flight To Hawaii Unexpectedly Turned Perilous

By Trista Sobeck | Published

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When you go to Hawaii on vacation, you’re expecting to slide immediately into paradise even on the plane ride there. However, sometimes tragedy strikes even in heaven, or in this case, on the way to paradise. From volcanoes to shark attacks, bad things happen even if you’re going to Hawaii to do volunteer work (which is a thing, by the way). 


According to NPR, at least 11 people were seriously hurt on the Hawaii flight on their way to the islands in a once-in-a-lifetime turbulence issue. The flight was leaving Phoenix, Ariz., and was on its way to land in Honolulu, Hawaii, when the plane was struck with extreme turbulence. It was so bad that at least one person was thrown directly onto the ceiling

That person reportedly did not have their seat belt on as they were just returning from a trip to the bathroom. 20 folks on the Hawaii flight were taken to the hospital because of injuries, 3 of which were flight attendants. 

Those who are fearful of flying may not want to hear more about this story, but experts do say this was a very rare case of turbulence. There was a report of thunderstorms in the Oahu area. However, those did not appear to be of a violent nature on this Hawaii flight.

The patch of air was turbulent enough to cause internal injuries to the plane. The majority of the people who were hurt did not have their seatbelts on. The Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330-200 immediately landed after the turbulence was encountered. 

There will be an investigation looking into how much altitude the plane lost, as well as other things like the seatbelt signs being activated and how many times folks were reminded to wear their seatbelts.

When traveling by air, flight attendants warn to have seatbelts buckled even when the seatbelt sign is not activated. This is a specific situation in which that advice could’ve come in handy. Flight attendants also warn to stay hydrated when traveling by air and bring nutritious snacks. This is true for a long flight, like this particular Hawaii flight. 

Although you should try to travel in the morning, prior to any type of weather forming, when booking a flight, all the research in the world cannot predict a freak air pocket of turbulence that comes out of nowhere. However, you can research the airline you choose to make sure it’s one of the main ones. 

If something like this does happen, you want to make sure flight attendants and pilots are seasoned and know how to deal with emergencies. Such was the case with this Hawaii flight by the Hawaiian Airlines crew who was able to get priority landing approval right after the turbulence occurred. 

Although plane crashes are rare (1 in 1.2 million) the fear of flying is one of the top fears experienced by people. Sometimes, there is nothing someone can do to alleviate their fears, and stories like this rare turbulence or the one where a plane got caught in power lines do nothing to help people relax. 

To relax, experts recommend talking to flight attendants, listening to music, or napping. It is not recommended to drink while on a flight as illness and confusion can occur. Your best bet is to be alert, know where the exits are and take relaxing breaths. And think about what awaits you on the other side of your Hawaii flight.