Hawaiian Airlines Flight Makes A U-Turn After Passengers Fight Over Seat Recline

Hawaiian Airlines made a dramatic move on Tuesday, when the aircraft had to return to Hawaii after a dispute broke out between passengers. Hawaiian said they were concerned about safety on board, but rebooked inconvenienced travelers onto another flight.

Hawaiian Airlines 321 Aircraft
Hawaiian Airlines flight forced to return to Honolulu after dispute between passengers. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines.

Dispute between passengers

On a flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles, two passengers got involved in a verbal dispute. Just two hours into the five-hour trip, the two men began to argue loudly. According to other passengers, the argument was all about one passenger’s reclined seat bumping into the other person.

The passenger who was sitting behind began to argue with the other passenger regarding his seat position. The argument quickly escalated, and soon yelling could be heard throughout the plane. At one point, one of the men was seen charging down the plane aisle at the other person.



A flight attendant stepped in to stop the dispute before it could escalate any further. Thanks to their quick action, the disagreement did not become physical. It’s rumored that the flight attendant may have been injured in the process of breaking up the situation, but an injury report has not been officially announced.

After the incident was broken up, an announcement was made stating that the plane would be returning to Honolulu based on concerns over the safety of all the passengers.

Flight returns to Hawaii

The aircraft made its way back to its point of origin in Honolulu. It had left at 2:50 pm en route to Los Angeles. It returned and landed back in Hawaii at 6:38 pm, around the time that it should have been landing in LA.

Upon arrival back in Hawaii, the passengers involved in the argument were escorted off of the plane by police and taken into custody. The remaining 274 passengers and 11 crew were also forced to leave the plane and return to the gate to wait for their rescheduled flight. The passengers were told to take all of their carry-on luggage with them when they were exiting the plane.

The incident caused the most inconvenience to the passengers expecting to arrive in LA on Tuesday evening. Many of the passengers had connecting flights or previous engagements scheduled in the city, all of which had to be canceled due to the behavior of these two guys.

While a non-physical argument might seem like a small thing to turn an entire aircraft around for, Hawaiian Airlines were absolutely right to take a cautious approach to the situation. Protecting the safety of the other passengers was their priority, which meant getting the plane back on the ground as quickly as possible.

We are awaiting an official statement from Hawaiian Airlines about details of the flight incident.


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Aircraft Lover

According to IATA:

“Between 2007 and 2016, over 58,000 unruly passenger incidents were reported on aircraft in-flight.

These incidents include violence against crew and other passengers, harassment and failure to follow safety instructions.

Unruly behavior threatens passenger safety, disrupt other passengers and crew causing delays and diversions.



Reclining seats are the devil. Only slide-forward seats that some Asian carriers now have should be allowed. That way, you are reducing YOUR OWN space not someone else’s. Airlines squeeze people into increasingly tighter 30″ economy seats and then you still allow people to recline so far back the person behind can’t see their TV screen or use their tray table?

Airlines are making Y class increasingly tight and uncomfortable, because they dont make money in Y and want people to pay for Y+ and J upgrades.

It’s all a recipe for disaster and more instances like this.


You are 100% correct. Airlines are not the innocent parties in this type of altercation


Hawaiian Airlines is spitting in customer’s faces by turning a plane around MIDWAY to destination. What was the advantage when continuing to destination was at the same distance? Hawaiian Airlines should be sued for this absurdity, they have no respect for their passengers!

Aircraft Lover

Reduced aircraft seat pitch, increases passengers stress, muscle pain, and many other unwanted situations

John Raquepau

I live in Hawaii and usually fly Hawaiian airlines. When they started flying the A330 many years ago I noticed that the seat pitch seemed tight, and that a reclining seat in front of you basically dumps into your lap.
It’s difficult to get up out of your seat when the passenger in front of you reclines their seat as well.


It doesn’t help that seat pitch is getting tighter and passengers are getting fatter. What wasn’t a problem in the 70´s is now a HUGE problem now, and only going to get worse!


I think they should remove the recline feature from airplane seats. There is little enough room between seats now. It would also save a lot of angst among passengers as well.

Jack T

You bed is my eating table. This has always been a problem.