As many as 36 passengers were injured, 11 seriously, after a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Phoenix to Honolulu hit severe turbulence on Sunday morning.
Hawaiian Airlines confirmed that the Airbus A330 aircraft involved in the incident was full to capacity with 278 passengers and ten crew members onboard.
Both passengers and flight attendants were reportedly injured after turbulence rocked the aircraft, sending some people flying towards the ceiling. Pictures shared on social media showed damage to the cabin ceiling from what appears to be a direct impact of an object.
Local hospitals and medical providers on Oʻahu said 36 people received treatment, 20 were transported to the hospital, and 11 were treated for serious injuries.
Jim Ireland, director of Honolulu Emergency Medical Services, told the AP news wire he felt “fortunate” there “were not any deaths or other critical injuries”.
In a statement, Hawaiian Airlines said flight HA35 “encountered severe turbulence” at around 10:35 am on Sunday morning. The airline added that the seat belt sign was on at the time of the incident.
“Medical care was provided to several guests & crewmembers at the airport for minor injuries while some were swiftly transported to local hospitals for further care,” the statement continued.
“We apologize to our guests for this incident and thank our crewmembers, first responders, hospital personnel, and airport teams for their coordinated response,” the airline said several hours after the accident.
A spokesperson explained that the nine-year-old aircraft would undergo “a thorough inspection” before being returned to service.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), which represents crew members at Hawaiian, added that it was supporting the flight attendants involved and was “thankful the plane landed without further incident”.
Bad weather had been forecast in the area but Hawaiian’s chief operating officer Jon Snook told local media that severe turbulence had not been predicted. The pilots declared an emergency emergency following the incident due to the number of injuries and the plane was given priority clearance to land.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.