When three Hawaii flights to/from San Diego, all experienced flight diversions crossing the Pacific. What causes these flight diversions?

Within 48-Hours, 3 Alaska Air Hawaii Flights Divert Over Pacific

We don’t know about you, but we worry anytime there is a flight diversion on a Hawaii flight. The cause of the following diversions isn’t clear. The most obvious are mechanical, medical, and passenger issues, as detailed below. This all happened last week, within a 48-hour period, and involved flights between San Diego and Hawaii. As noted below, these issues all occurred on 737-800 aircraft, not the 737MAX-8 associated with the recent Southwest diversions.

The good news is that all flights landed safely, and passengers ultimately got to where they were going. Kudos to Alaska Airlines! This news, however, came as quite a surprise following yesterday’s article about three Southwest Hawaii flight diversions. To have to report on five such diversions in one day is highly unusual.

Were you on any of these three Alaska flights? All diverted within 48 hours over the Pacific.

    1. Monday, August 8, Alaska Flight 806, from Maui to San Diego. It departed at 2:50 PM and had a flight diversion that took place at close to 2 hours in flight towards the west coast. The flight, onboard a Boeing 737-800, returned to Hawaii, landing at Honolulu. at 5:56 PM. The cause of the problem is unknown.
    2. Tuesday, August 9, Alaska Flight 9201, from Honolulu to San Diego. Unbelievably, that flight suffered the same flight diversion fate as their prior fight 806. The Boeing 737-800 departed Honolulu at 9:48 AM and returned to Honolulu just shy of three hours later at 11:31 AM. If you notice the unusual flight number 9201, that appears to normally be used when it’s a special flight created by Alaska.
    3. Wednesday, August 10, Alaska Flight 895 from San Diego to Honolulu. A flight diversion was called en route, and the 737-800 aircraft returned to San Diego at 1:37 PM, just one hour later.

What causes mid-Pacific Hawaii flight diversions?

We hope to learn more about the cause of last week’s flight diversions. The last thing airlines want to do is to divert an aircraft. It is frightening, it is annoying, and it is expensive. Sometimes, however, circumstances beyond anyone’s control can result in an aircraft diverting to a different airport than the one planned.

When a diversion occurs, the airline will either resume the same flight when the causal issue is resolved or will terminate the flight and either create a new flight (AS9201) or move passengers to other flights.

One of the causes of flight diversions is the weather, and we’ve encountered those ourselves. They are rare, however, on flights to Hawaii. As an example, a flight your editors were traveling on from New York to San Jose made a weather-related diversion and ended up in Boise Idaho due to severe summer storms that prevented the flight from operating normally.

Flight diversions for mechanical reasons.

Sometimes things just break or give the appearance of being broken. That takes on special meaning mid-Pacific, over the world’s longest open ocean flights without a diversion point. So if the flight crew suspects a problem, they will immediately diagnose it and make the determination as to whether it is safer to continue or to turn back. When turning back soon after take-off, fuel can be an issue and may need to be dumped.

Flight diversions for medical issues.

Airlines are both very well equipped and trained to deal with mid-air medical emergencies. In addition, airliners heaving invest in telemedicine to provide the highest possible level of medical evaluation. That is an adjunct or replacement to the question of whether there is a doctor or nurse onboard.

Flight diversions caused by passenger disruptions.

When Hawaii airline passengers are unruly or are deemed to pose a threat to the safety of other passengers and crew, diversion may be indicated.

Planning for a diversion.

Since this can happen at any time, you definitely want to fly prepared. Having everything that you need, including for example, prescription medicines, snacks, and whatever else you deem a necessity, can prove to be very important.

We are always glad to be beyond the halfway point to Hawaii since that assures you that a diversion will not occur. We’ve personally been on board and witnessed many a close call for mechanical and medical reasons, but haven’t actually experienced a mid-Pacific flight diversion. Have you?

Hat tip to BOH regular commenter Jeff L.

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86 thoughts on “Within 48-Hours, 3 Alaska Air Hawaii Flights Divert Over Pacific”

  1. Saturday 8-13-22 our flight from Oahu to LAX was routed further North. We came across the Anacapa Islands. The pilot announced the change prior to take off but didn’t mention why

  2. We were an hour into our Alaska San Jose-Lihue flight, and it seemed a bit louder than usual. Turns out they couldn’t close the door completely,and so we diverted back to the mainland.

  3. Booked September flight to celebrate 66th wedding anniversary. Always fly Alaska. Confident the crew will always do the right thing.

  4. Flights 806 and 9201 were both operated by the same aircraft, N564AS, a 737-800. This has me speculating that flight 806 diverted back to HNL due to mechanical, and the next day they decided to ferry the plane without passengers to San Diego (i.e. the special 9xxx flight number), and the mechanical issue wasn’t resolved, leading to another HNL diversion.

    1. If it was a maintenance ferry flight, it would of been flown to either LAX or SEA. While there is maintenance in SAN, they don’t have the resources available at the two Alaska hubs I mentioned above

  5. Same thing happened to me on July 22 but with Hawaiian Airlines. Flight HA57 from San Diego departed and 2 hours later we turned around and landed in LAX. We spent the night in LAX and flew out the next day. They didn’t give much information other than “airplane issues”

    1. The airline should be transparent and let their flying customers know what happened.


  6. My wife & I were on AAL’s red-eye flt from KOA-PHX last Feb 2022. We departed KOA on time @ 10:30 pm +/- aboard an Airbus NEO321. About 2.5 hrs into the crossing the pilot came on the cabin P.A. notifying all passengers “We have a landing gear problem light on in the cock-pit control panel. We have to turn-around & return to HNL” We returned to HNL & arrived @ 3 a.m. HST.
    Of course, @ 3 a.m. there was no arrival gate employees that knew anything about re-routing passengers.
    We ended up with a early morning (8:30 a.m.) flight to LAX, change terminals & planes arriving in PHX at 8 p.m. that evening. A flight that was to take 6 hrs direct to PHX took 22 hrs, KOA-HNL-LAX-PHX. We didn’t receive any rebate from AAL.

  7. Thats really scary to hear. I was on an Alaska airlines flight from San Diego to Lihue on August 8th. Thank God nothing happened on my flight but please keep me posted what did happen on the other flights.

  8. Mahalo for following up on these flight diversions. Haven’t heard anything in the news about them. Three in 48hrs is more than a coincidence. Appreciate your effortss!



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