Thanks to a tip from regular reader and commenter Andy, we were first alerted to a troubling diversion that occurred on a Southwest Hawaii flight earlier today. Flight 3316 was en route from Las Vegas to Maui when the unconfirmed threat occurred.
The flight departed Las Vegas at 9:21 am and was due to arrive at Kahului, Maui, some six hours later. But that didn’t occur. Instead, the plane traveled some 500+ miles into its trans-Pacific journey when something serious happened. Passenger reports said that a threatening message was “airdropped” to other passengers onboard. As a result, the plane made a U-turn and ended up landing at Oakland three hours and twenty-eight minutes later.
While details of the exact threat that occurred on WN 3316 aren’t yet clear, we can confirm, based on information from FlightAware, that the diversion took place earlier today.
Passengers were forced to deplane, then aircraft was secured at Oakland.
Full details are still being pieced together as to what actually occurred. Additional reports in social media said that the threat, which may have been intended as a joke, resulted in the west coast diversions, with passengers being forced to leave the plane without their belongings in Oakland. After nearly six hours at Oakland, the flight resumed to Maui, where it landed this evening.
Prior Southwest passenger-related diversion was in December.
In that previous incident, a dispute took place between passengers that required the plane to do an about face mid-Pacific and return to its origination point in Honolulu. That took place at the time when Southwest was in recovery mode from its December meltdown.
Hawaii flight diversions.
Passenger-related diversions can range from minor disputes to more serious threats and incidents like what occurred today, that require immediate intervention by the airline and sometimes law enforcement.
Hawaii flight diversions result in aircraft being redirected to alternative airports, such as in the case of today’s Oakland diversion. When disruptive situations like this pose a threat to the safety of the flight, the captain may choose to divert to the closest location where the issue can be quickly addressed. Given the great over-water distances between the mainland and Hawaii, at times the nearest airport can be hours away.
Flight diversions are something both the airlines and law enforcement take very seriously in order to ensure the safety of all those onboard. Flight diversions are also a serious inconvenience to passengers, like the additional hours spent in Oakland, on today’s Southwest Hawaii-bound flight. Kudos to all involved in the situation being resolved safely and passengers arriving on Maui, albeit later than they would have liked.