HONOLULU (KHON2) — It was a terrifying moment for nearly 300 Hawaiian Airlines passengers. The Honolulu-bound flight from Phoenix experienced severe turbulence about 30 minutes before landing which sent at least 11 people to the hospital in serious condition. 

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Jacie Hayata Ano was on board Hawaiian Airlines flight 35 traveling home for the holidays when the plane began to shake violently. 

Hayata Ano said, “It was just rocky. And then, it quickly just escalated to, like, the point where we’re shaking so much that we were, like, pretty much like floating off of our chairs.” 

She said the severe turbulence only lasted a few seconds, but that was enough to injure several passengers. Photos from inside the aircraft showed damaged panels on the plane’s overhead, possibly from passengers slamming into it. 

She said, “You could see, like, people were hurt around us and things are just everywhere as yeah that’s pretty surreal.”

It was a large response of ambulances at the Daniel K Inouye International Airport waiting for the passengers in need of medical attention. 

The Honolulu Emergency Services Director Dr. James Ireland said EMS personnel treated 36 patients at the scene. Twenty of them, ranging from adults to a 14-month old were transported to hospitals, and eleven were in serious condition. 

“We had some patients with lacerations, including to the head,” Ireland said. “Definitely bumps and bruises. A large group of people, maybe 10 or so, were experiencing nausea and vomiting, which isn’t an injury but just consequences of the extreme motion.”

The Hawaiian Airlines Executive Vice President and COO Jon Snook said they often travel through stormy weather without incidents, but this was a rare occasion. 

“There was no warning of this particular patch of air at that altitude was dangerous. It caught everyone by surprise, which is often the case,” Snook said. “There was an incident five years ago with our carrier that had a similar situation where you just don’t know it’s coming.”

Hayata Ano said she is glad she will not need to travel on a plane for at least another two weeks. For now, she is happy to be on land and reunited with her family. 

She said, “Everybody started clapping once we landed because the landing was really smooth. It was a really good landing.”

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Hawaiian Airlines will be cooperating with the NTSB during the investigation. At least three other Hawaiian Airlines flights were diverted due to low visibility.