An unruly passenger prompted a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Las Vegas to divert to Los Angeles Wednesday morning.
The airline confirms HA7 departed Las Vegas at 8:44 a.m. local time and was about an hour into the flight, just past Los Angeles, when the crew was notified of an unruly passenger.
The airline said in a statement: “Our flight crews are responsible for the safety and comfort of all passengers on board our flights and the Captain in charge of the aircraft is entrusted with determining when it’s best to deplane an anxious or unruly passenger. Diverting a fight is clearly not our first choice, but our crew felt it was necessary to divert to Los Angeles and deplane the passenger before beginning to fly over the Pacific Ocean.”
Los Angeles Airport Police and the FBI met the aircraft at the gate. Officials said there was a dispute between a 66-year-old male passenger and the flight crew over the charge for a blanket.
“The male passenger had asked for a blanket because he was cold and was told there was a $12 fee that accompanied the blanket,” said Rob Pedregon, Los Angeles Airport Police.
Pedregon said the passenger “made a statement that he wanted to take somebody behind the woodshed over this, which prompted the flight crew to contact the captain who then in turn diverted the aircraft to LAX.”
Once at the airport, the passenger was escorted to the ticketing area. He was not arrested. Officials say there was no credible or direct threat made, and no crime was committed.
“(The crew) took offense to the statement that he made. Maybe they felt uncomfortable with it, which is well within their rights to divert the plane and refuse service,” Pedregon said.
We’ve learned that incidents involving unruly passengers happen regularly nationwide. Last year, there were 79 incidents, and in each of the previous four years, more than a hundred.
Passengers on Wednesday’s flight had mixed reactions about the delay.
Dallas resident Claudia Rodriguez said the airline did not provide much information during the incident.
“He looked like he was drunk. He just looked like he was a drunken person,” she told KHON2. “The thing we were most upset about was when we got off the plane, when they deplaned us after sitting for an hour, we talked to one of the staff and we asked them what we would do next, and we were not given a lot of information. They told us to go ahead and seek other options, so we went ahead and bought another ticket for my husband and I and we’re not going to get a refund on that one. We ended up losing $600.”
Passenger Bianca Moors said, “I’m okay with this. They’re doing it to protect the passengers as well as the crew, because I think this is a very expensive stop for Hawaiian.”
HA7 departed Los Angeles at 2:15 p.m. local time, and should arrive in Honolulu at 7:07 p.m. local time.