A disturbance over the cost of a $12 blanket forced a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu to be diverted to Los Angeles Wednesday.
Hawaiian Airlines confirmed that flight HA7 from Las Vegas was nearly an hour into its trip when the plane turned and landed in Los Angeles. The pilot had to dump the plane’s fuel, that was supposed to take them all the way to Hawaii, in order to land the plane.
Rob Pedregon of the Los Angeles Airport Police reported that there was a dispute between a 66-year-old male passenger and the flight crew over the cost of a blanket. After learning that the blanket cost $12, 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.”
Upon landing in Los Angeles, the flight was met by Los Angeles Airport Police and the FBI. The passenger involved in the disturbance was not arrested after officials determined that he did not make a credible or direct threat and no crime was committed.
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“[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.
The delay caused mixed reactions among passengers on the flight. Bianca Moors thought that the crew was attempting to ensure safety. “They’re doing it to protect the passengers as well as the crew because I think this is a very expensive stop for Hawaiian,” she said.
One passenger, Eileen Bertstrom, said, “I thought it was ridiculous – it cost them $12,000 to land here, and it was a $12 blanket.”
Dallas resident Claudia Rodriguez would like to have received more reliable information about the diversion and delay.
“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,” Rodriguez said. “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.”
Hawaiian airlines released the following statement: “Diverting a flight is clearly not our first choice, but our crew thought it was necessary in this case to divert to Los Angles and deplane the passenger before beginning to fly over the Pacific Ocean.”
The flight departed Los Angeles nearly four hours behind schedule.
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