What a non-stop trip from Los Angeles to Maui, Hawaii had to be, turned into a dizzying nightmare Friday after the plane went back three times before the flight was finally canceled.
Hawaiian Airlines Flight 33, on its way to Maui's Kahului Airport, departed twice and left for Los Angeles International Airport each time after hours of flying. When the plane tried to leave for the third time, it was forced to return to the gate and the flight was canceled, according to reports in the media.
Hawaiian Airlines did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday, but Alex Da Silva, the airline's senior manager, told CNN that the plane was returning multiple times due to unrelated systemic issues, although the airline did not say what the specific problems were.
An image of flightradar24.com, an online tracker, shows that during one of the flights the plane went down after less than an hour and spent another hour at Los Angeles airport.
During a new attempt, the aircraft flew for 5.5 hours, circling repeatedly across the Pacific Ocean without ever passing the Channel Islands National Park, just off the coast of California. The plane landed back at the airport after having meandered for almost 2,500 km.
A statement to CNN said that the flight, which had more than 200 passengers, was classified as an "operation with an extended range" and that such flights have "heavier safety requirements" due to longer distances. The airline added that its standard "is to respond to any indication of deviations with an overabundance of caution."
"Safety is our top priority and we apologize for the inconvenience to all our guests … We understand the disappointment of our guests and deeply regret that their travel plans were disrupted", according to the airline.
The airline also said in response to a tweet from an unlucky flyer that passengers will receive refunds and a $ 100 credit for future flights. That passenger, who said he is a musician, said that his band would perform in Maui on Saturday night and criticized the airline for having "DONE MISCELLANEOUS defective aircraft in the air".