36 People Injured After ‘Severe Turbulence’ on Hawaiian Airlines Flight: ‘There Was No Warning’




Thirty-six passengers were injured – including 11 seriously – when a Hawaiian Airlines flight encountered “severe turbulence” Sunday morning.

Authorities met the plane when it landed shortly before 11 a.m. at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu and treated the injured passengers, which included a 14-month-old baby, KHON 2 reported. Twenty people were transported to nearby medical facilities, the outlet added.

“Hawaiian Airlines is continuing to support the 17 passengers and three crew members who sustained injuries today after Flight 35 from Phoenix to Honolulu encountered severe turbulence,” the airline said via a statement late Sunday about the incident, which occurred about 30 minutes before landing.

The Airbus 330, carrying 278 passengers, eight flight attendants and two pilots was at an altitude of about 36,000 feet when it hit a pocket of unstable air, sending unbuckled passengers and unsecured objects airborne, according to multiple reports.

“Injuries occur because the aircraft goes down and if you don’t have your seat belt on, you stay where you are,” Jon Snook, Hawaiian Airlines Chief Operating Officer explained during a news conference Sunday afternoon in Hawaii.

He also confirmed that three flight attendants were among those taken to the hospital.

Emergency responders told KHON 2 that injuries included lacerations, bruising, loss of consciousness and at least one serious head injury.

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Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines.
FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Passengers aboard the flight recalled the frightening moments when the plane took a “sudden drop,” although Snook said Sunday that he didn’t know how much altitude the plane lost during the incident.

“Everybody was panicked,” passenger Jodette Neely told the Today show. “People were hitting their heads on the ceiling and I was grabbing the seat in front of me, even though I had my seatbelt on.”

“The plane shook and then it went into a sudden drop,” another passenger told the TV show, “kind of like how you would go into a drop on a roller coaster.”

Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu

Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu

Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu.
Audrey McAvoy/AP/Shutterstock

Although thunderstorms were reported in the area and a weather advisory had been issued for the flight path approaching Oahu, Snook said the turbulence was unexpected.

“There was no warning of this particular patch of air at that altitude was in any way dangerous,” he said. “It caught everybody by surprise.”

The airline said in its statement that it will now conduct “a thorough inspection of the aircraft before returning it to service.”