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Unruly Passenger Arrested on Hawaiian Airlines Over Seat & Drink

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.

Please share your thoughts on this incident and how it was handled.

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37 thoughts on “Unruly Passenger Arrested on Hawaiian Airlines Over Seat & Drink”

  1. HA should’ve handled the situation differently. They originally started the eereor which caused the passenger to act so erratically to begin with. Escalating the situation by physically touching her cause her to snap. HA owes this poor woman an apology and all reimbursement towards of whatever she had paid for her reservation. Period, end of story!

  2. This makes menso sad to read.

    Please … no one has the right to behave in this way unless being threatened with great harm.

    Would you hire someone with this behavior, or want them as a friend?

  3. Hawaiian Airlines is the Booze Cruise of the sky! First class drinks start the minute you take your seat and you’ll be served until you are unconscious with your phone on the floor and trash around you seat!
    No problem getting completely trashed on Hawaiian Air.

    1. Totally disagree, Hawaiian, American (HP/USAir) have been very responsible as to controlling the flow of Adult Beverage in the Sky. As one who before retirement, flew 46 of 52 weeks a year for 25+ years, as an Elite being Upgraded weekly, there may have been the 1 in 12 that may have been on the way to having too many, but Flight Attendants were always judicious in their control, Domestic or International. Hawaiian, our choice over the last 15 years for Hawaii and always in First, may be the most responsible as to controlling the flow. My opinion, is the problem begins pre-flight at Airport Facilities and those travelers who may carry on illegally their own small bottles. As with anything in life, ‘Responsibility’ is the key.

  4. I was on the flight and as far as I am concern she should have been fined a lot more than $600. Because of her we missed our connecting flight to SF. Rebooked to another flight to Maui to SF, in which we yet again missed our connecting flight. Finally to get a last min flight to Oakland instead. Hand to pay another night dog fee and there were others in my family that hand to accomodate all the changes to help us. And we are just three of the many passangers that missed connecting flights that day! One person caused so much travel stress and delays pathetic! Because of one person I had the worst travel home experience of my life wwith my two kids.

  5. I think that the airline made a mistake in Trying to put her in Economy and should have been more conciliatory with her and it probably would have eased her anger and not led to her being so aggravated. They tend to be very cavalier about passengers difficulties instead of truly being helpful or apologetic which could diffuse the situation instead of inflame

  6. Seems like the passenger had a legitimate complaint. I believe crew could have de escalated the situation sooner. Flying sucks anyways, perhaps no more alcohol on flights would help.

    1. I think that if she was put in an economy class that she had a right to be annoyed. they could have handled it more professionally and she could have been more mature about it.
      both parties seem to feel they were in the right.

  7. Maybe it’s fair for a first offense. Maybe not. The bigger takeaway from that part is how fast the justice system worked there in Australia. Low end crap happened. Crap was resolved. People moved on. We try to do better. Human.


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