A Hawaiian Airlines flight diversion occurred on Saturday, when flight 42 from Maui to San Francisco changed course in mid-Pacific to return to Honolulu. That as a result of an unruly passenger who had allegedly been drinking.
As seen from the image above (details courtesy of FlightRadar), the flight departed Maui at 220 pm, then turned around approximately two hours later, in mid-Pacific, and landed at Honolulu Airport. The passenger was deplaned and now faces federal charges expected to be filed later today. The Airbus 330 flight later continued to San Francisco.
Once a flight reaches the approximate mid-way point across the Pacific, it would not be possible to turn back due to fuel limitations. Our take is that Hawaiian Airlines might have gone either direction at the two+ hour point, but decided it was better to return to their Honolulu base, which was still closer at that point, rather than deal with a situation on the west coast.
We’ve experienced near-diversions crossing the Pacific, due to medical situations, but never experienced an actual one. Passengers who were almost half-way home were undoubtedly upset to return to Hawaii and face a further travel delay.
Mid-Pacific Aircraft Diversions
Aircraft diversions are always an unwanted experience, albeit sometimes necessary for medical or safety reasons. Or as in this case, due to a passenger disturbance.
When flying to or from Hawaii, or anywhere over long stretches of ocean, diversions become far more complex than when flying over land. There are no diversion options between Hawaii and the US Mainland. Thus, consideration is largely based on the feasibility of returning to Hawaii or continuing to the west coast. The distance between Hawaii and the west coast, 2,500+ miles, represents the longest span without a diversion point in the Pacific.
You may recall that last year we reported on two mid-Pacific Hawaiian Air flight diversion incidents in a single week.
Have you ever experienced a flight diversion?