Hawaii Flight Diverts Over a $12 Blanket

This morning’s Hawaiian Airlines flight 7 from Las Vegas to Honolulu made it out over the Pacific Ocean, dumped fuel, and diverted to LAX because a passenger objected to being asked to pay $12 for a blanket.

He asked a flight attendant for the phone number to call the airline to complain. They gave it to him. He told a seatmate “they’re not treating me right. I’m going to call the president,” and he reportedly said to crew “I would like to take somebody behind the woodshed for this.”

According to the man’s seat opponent, the flight attendant interpreted that as ‘threatening the pilot’.

They diverted the plane and law enforcement came onboard to take the man in seat 42A off the plane.

Since the flight landed before expected — albeit in Los Angeles, not Hawaii — the Hawaiian Airlines website calls this an ‘early arrival’.

Even accounting for that diversions always take longer than you’d expect, the flight took a surprisingly long time — over four hours — to get back in the air and is still enroute to Honolulu as I write this.

The man taken off the plane wasn’t arrested and won’t be charged. He arranged alternate transportation with another airline back to Hawaii. Since the delay in Los Angeles was more than four hours, depending on the credit card he had used to purchase his tickets, he might have had an interesting trip delay claim had he chosen to overnight rather than continuing.

Ultimately I think it’s actually kind of nice that Hawaiian has blankets available for sale. Passengers can of course bring their own. Still, $12 for an airline blanket does seem a bit much unless it’s new United Polaris bedding or perhaps one of the super soft Etihad first class blankets.

The crew here seem to have overreacted however.

(HT: mogon)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Where is the video? Make these tyrants famous and they’ll think twice about daring people to talk back as I’ve seen repeatedly in recent years. You don’t need to say a thing, have a smile while you pull out the phone and use the offline camera only. Upload it to Youtube and depending upon how much of an authoritarian display they make millions will see it and they’ll be recognized everywhere they do in the worst possible way. There is no better revenge. Make them famous!

  2. The blankets are made from recycled plastic. And the only reason one might need them is because Hawaiian’s 767’s are EXTREMELY cold at altitude. The flight attendants we’ve spoken to about the cabin temperature have blamed it on Boeing, said Boeing techs have been onboard and “can’t figure out what’s causing it” to be so cold in-flight . . .

    As my wife has said, “You need to bring a ski parka when you fly Hawaiian.”

  3. I’m flying Hawaiian in a couple weeks. Here’s to hoping some snowflake flight attendant doesn’t divert my vacation because she didn’t like a hat a passenger was wearing.

  4. If this story happened as stated it’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. What about the other passengers and their schedule. They overreacted for sure.

  5. It’s one thing to offer a blanket, and then charge 12 bucks for it. It’s another to charge someone 12 bucks for a blankets if they don’t want it. That’s stupid right there. They shouldn’t charge nothing, if they don’t want it

  6. I assume the $12 is the take-away price? Even my dogs would turn their nose up at a skimpy airline blanket. Over-reaction on both sides of the dispute. ‘Make America Smart Again!”

  7. Overreacting mixed with FA’s with too much attitude. The rest of the passengers end up the losers.

  8. Really stupid on all sides. If I’m the seat opponent (great term), I’m pulling out a wallet and telling them both, “Here’s 12 bucks. You should both take a chill pill,” or something like that. Incredible to inconvenience hundreds of people over something so petty.

    Do people in the airline industry get any training at all in defusing and de-escalating situations? In my job we certainly do

  9. DaveS they would have proably deplane you too. FA attitude and judgement is really bad, they consider everything a threath.

  10. Agree with @Elias…too many cabin crew are now a bunch of paranoid, power-hungry idiots…kinda similar to the TSA clerks.

    To have remotely interpreted what the passenger said as a “threat” is beyond ridiculous. Although the idiom alludes to spanking a naughty child the phrase has long meant simply to punish someone.

    As @DaveS said, do they not train FAs in de-escalation and conflict management? Apparently not…or if they do, the training isn’t taking hold it seems.

  11. I’ve never flown Hawaiian … and this decreases the likelihood that I ever will. And there are a hundred plus passengers who were on that flite that almost certainly feel similarly.

    Nice move, Hawaiian.

  12. The sad thing about this situation is all that fuel dumped into the ocean over a blanket. We are killing our planet slowly but surely.

  13. @Larry Apolonio —> HA flies Boeing 767s between the SF Bay Area and HNL & OGG (which are the only long-haul flights I have ever taken on HA).

    That said, you are correct in that they fly A330-200s from Asia to Hawai’i, as well as from the East Coast of the US . . . AND in this case, from LAS. Their fleet is composed of 19 older 717s for inter-island flight; 8 Boeing 767s (averaging 14 years old), down from 18; and 23 relatively new A330-200s (averaging 4.0 years of age).

  14. “We are killing our planet slowly but surely.”

    Not even that slowly anymore.

  15. Do FAs get paid extra with diversions? They seem awfully quick to run to the captain with every little complaint.

  16. Sounds like another FA working out their control issues at work. Power trips are never pretty.

  17. I don’t see this $12 fee listed on the website. FAA should look into whether it was properly disclosed.

    Hawaiian will regret this one.

  18. Shame, shame, shame on the crew for such an over-reaction. Where is the common sense. These passenger comments construed as a threat?! Oh, please!

    I hope that the airline itself takes this opportunity to review this whole saga and take corrective / training measures so this type of flawed decision making doesn’t repeat itself.

  19. @Bill makes a good point. I thought I read that FAs only got paid for the time in between the doors closing and opening. Which means this sort of FA nonsense would affect fellow FA’s paycheck. Anyone?

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