Multiple sources are reporting that, based on court-filed documents, Hawaiian Airlines suffered an unruly passenger incident that caused one of their flights to return to the gate, the passenger to be removed and arrested, and the flight to be delayed.
FlightAware data shows that the incident occurred on Saturday, October 15, on HA flight 452, which was bound from Sydney to Honolulu. The plane departed gate 53 at Kingsford Smith Airport.
The previous unruly passenger incident on Hawaiian Airlines occurred in June, when a guest, en route from New York to Honolulu, tried to breach the Airbus A330 cockpit. When that plane landed in Honolulu, it was met by law enforcement. During the flight, the passenger remained restrained. They were not, however, detained by authorities.
How did this Hawaiian Airlines’ unruly passenger issue arise?
According to reports based on information from Downing Centre District Court in Sydney, the passenger, Daniele De Matos, age 36, is a U.S. citizen who appears to be from Walnut Creek, CA. She had purchased an expensive business class ticket to Honolulu. On that route, business fares can cost up to $3,000 or more one-way. Somehow, she was incorrectly seated in economy class, where fares can be as little as $500. Documents indicated she had been in Sydney for work in the software industry.
The report stated, “On boarding, cabin crew directed the accused to an economy seat which caused the accused to become verbally abusive towards the staff members.”
There were concerning mood swings that caused the airline to take decisive action.
Subsequently, De Matos was allowed to take to the seat she had purchased. At some point, the passenger again became abusive toward the flight attendants. Reportedly she was angered when a pre-departure drink she hadn’t finished was taken from her.
The passenger told flight attendants not to look at her for the flight’s duration. At one point, the flight attendant put her hand on the accused’s shoulder to try to calm her, but that further exacerbated the situation. She began staring at the crewmember who had taken away her drink in a concerning way after the aircraft had left the gate and was headed toward takeoff. Furthermore, the report said, “As a result of these interactions, the cabin crew advised the captain of the accused’s behavior.”
The captain formed the view that the accused’s erratic and disorderly behavior presented a risk to the safety of the aircraft.
At that point, the takeoff plans were abruptly aborted, and the plane returned to the gate at SYD to deplane De Matos. The passenger then refused to leave the aircraft as requested by Hawaiian Airlines personnel.
Australian Federal Police officers came onboard to arrest the passenger. They reported she was aggressive with them but ultimately exited the plane willingly.
She subsequently faced charges at Sydney’s Downing Center Criminal Court. The passenger pleaded guilty to behaving in an offensive or disorderly manner, affecting safety on the plane. She was convicted on the spot and fined A$600.
It isn’t known whether De Matos was later allowed to fly back to the U.S. on Hawaiian or if she was temporarily or permanently banned by the airline.