There have now been
two four more Hawaii flight diversions since we reported on United Airlines Flight 1724 on Saturday. That makes five since last Thursday in total. We learned that Alaska Airlines also had one on Saturday, and then United Airlines had their second recent diversion today, less than 72 hours later. This brings the total to nearly 20 Hawaii flight diversions in just the past few months.
Update: We learned of these other recent Hawaii flight diversions that occurred just since Thursday. Thursday, Alaska 875 from Seattle to Lihue diverted back to Seattle. The Boeing 737-800 returned to the mainland after about 1 1/2 hours of flight time. Then, on Friday, United 1141 from Honolulu to San Francisco diverted back to Honolulu after a flight time of about 2 1/2 hours. That was a Boeing 777-200.
Solar flares and flight diversions? Maybe not.
When there are a number of rapid-fire Hawaii flight diversions like this, it makes us wonder if it is all just a coincidence. We’d heard for years about some possible relationship between flight diversions and solar flares. Tonight it sent us checking on recent solar activity, which doesn’t appear to be unusual, with the last major activity back in August. Solar flares can apparently have indirect impact on flight diversions, largely because of flares’ influence on the ionosphere and on communications. So while solar flares don’t lead to flight diversions, their effects may create conditions conducive to flight diversions. If any of this is true, then 2025 could be quite the year for Hawaii flight diversions.
Here’s what caused United Flight 1724 to divert on Saturday.
The Boeing 757-300 from Kona to San Francisco, diverted to Honolulu and landed safely at 12:30 a.m. At the time, we were not aware of the cause of the diversion, but we have since learned what happened from a passenger on board.
I was on that flight. It took UAL over 4 hours to process all the passengers into new flights and hotels. By the time they got to me it was 5am (there was still at least 40 people still in line) and the next flight at 7am was 2 hours away so I did not go to hotel. By that time the 7 am flight filled up, and I had to standby, but fortunately got on. The pilots did mention that the mechanical issue was a redundant hydraulic issue. Though it was probably an easy fix, the flight crews were likely to be over extended their working hours and there wasn’t a crew they could call in so flight was cancelled, passengers rebooked. This stuff happens somewhere everyday and I cannot believe how unprepared they are when it happens.Bill S. – passenger on Flight 1724.
In any aircraft, hydraulics are responsible for controlling the movement of the plane, both left and right, and up and down. A hydraulic failure can lead to potential loss of aircraft control.
Expounding on what Bill reported, FlightAware showed the plane was delayed in Honolulu for more than 15 hours. It resumed its journey to San Francisco from Honolulu, departing after 6 p.m. on Saturday and arriving at about 3 a.m. Sunday.
Alaska Airlines Flight 850 Also Diverted Saturday.
Alaska 850, a 4.5-year-old Boeing 737 MAX 9, departed normally from Los Angeles, bound for Honolulu on Saturday morning at 7 a.m. About one hour en route, over the Eastern Pacific southwest of Los Angeles, something still unknown caused the flight to make a U-turn and return to Los Angeles. It landed there at 9:33 a.m.
The flight continued on a different aircraft, departing Los Angeles at 2:21 p.m. and arrived in Honolulu at 4:46 p.m.
United Airlines Flight 1509 Hawaii diversion inflight on Monday.
Then today, United Flight 1509, on a 28.4 year old Boeing 777-200, diverted en route to Hawaii. It departed the gate at San Francisco at 4:16 p.m. Monday and was in the air at 4:35 p.m. For reasons still unknown, Flight 1509 terminated its Pacific transit to Hawaii and returned instead to San Francisco nearly four hours later. The flight is again en route from San Francisco to Honolulu and is due to arrive late tonight. The same aircraft was used for both of these flights.
Flight Diversions Explained:
Flight diversions are normal, and as someone pointed out recently, they may be more common on Hawaii flights since additional precautions are taken. We can’t say whether or not that’s the case, and we’d appreciate hearing more on that from Beat of Hawaii’s pilot friends.
Flight diversions are the result of anything from medical situations of either passengers or crew, adverse weather, disruptive behavior, and last but not least, mechanical problems, as was the case with the earlier United diversion this weekend. All Hawaii-bound flights adhere to stringent ETOPS regulations as they cross the world’s longest expanse of ocean without designated diversion points.
If you have any more information about these Hawaii flight diversions, please let us know.
Hat tips to Rich, Dale, Pat and John! Images and flight details courtesy of FlightRadar24 and FlightAware.