Scary photo followed by nauseating smell plague passengers on same flight

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A school project gone wrong that forced a 90-minute delay wasn’t the only trouble for a Hawaii bound flight from Oakland.

Hawaiian Airlines has confirmed a second incident involving what passengers described as some type of pepper spray. We’re told about half way into the flight people started coughing. Video sent to us by a witness shows a fire truck on the tarmac and emergency crews helping to get people off the plane safely and calmly.

As for the initial incident, Hawaiian Airlines says a teenage passenger inadvertently sent a photo of a school science project to passengers sitting nearby. The picture showed a fake crime scene and included a child-sized mannequin. Hawaiian Air says the teenager and the family were rebooked on a later flight while the incident was investigated.

KRON reports the project was for a biomed class, and that the student attempted to AirDrop a picture from the class project to her mom.

AirDrop is a function on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Macs that allows a person to instantly share photos, videos, or other files to other Apple devices in close proximity. The feature uses Bluetooth rather than a mobile service to connect devices.

Alameda County Sheriff’s deputies met the plane on the tarmac, investigated the photo and realized it was a harmless mistake.

The plane eventually took off for Kahului Airport.

Hawaiian Airlines released the following statement:

“The safety and comfort of our guests is paramount and we apologize for the inconveniences our guests on Flight 23 experienced today.

During the cruise portion of the flight from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG), passengers in the forward section of the Boeing 767 experienced an unpleasant odor. Out of an abundance of caution, the flight crew declared an emergency to obtain handling priority into and at OGG. Affected guests were temporarily relocated further back in the aircraft and returned to their original seats after the odor dissipated. The flight landed without incident at 10:37 a.m. There were 256 passengers and 10 crew on board. First responders treated 12 passengers and three flight attendants for respiratory issues. They have all been released. The odor was determined to have come from a can of pepper spray brought on board illegally by a passenger. The TSA prohibits the transport of pepper sprays as a carry-on item. Authorities were questioning a passenger and investigating what appears to have been an accidental cannister discharge.

Prior to HA23 departing OAK, a teenage passenger inadvertently sent a photo of a school science project depicting a fake crime scene featuring a child-sized mannequin to the cell phones of nearby passengers. To resume the flight as quickly as possible and minimize the inconvenience to our guests, the teenager and the family were re-booked on a later flight while the incident was investigated. However, the departure was delayed for 89 minutes while the bags of the family were located and removed. 

The two incidents were unrelated. We sincerely apologize for the inconveniences aboard HA23, and are providing all passengers a $500 travel credit.”

As for how this happened, AirDrop has settings that allow people to accept files from anybody or just contacts. Some people don’t know what their settings are on their devices or switched the function to accept files from everyone and forgot to turn it off or back to contacts only.

If you are on an iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of your screen and click on the AirDrop icon. You’ll see options to turn “Receiving Off” or set it to “Contacts Only.”

You can also go to Settings > General and change your AirDrop settings there as well. 

If you are using a Mac, switch to Finder and select AirDrop from the Go menu. At the bottom of the AirDrop window, click the blue “Allow me to be discovered by” heading and select “Contacts Only” or “Receiving Off.”

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