Accidental Discharge of Pepper Spray on Hawaiian Airlines Flight to Maui
Passengers aboard Flight 23 from Oakland to Kahului today, were delayed upon departure and had a brief disruption while in flight because of two unrelated incidents.
The accidental discharge of a can of pepper spray is to blame for the temporary relocation of passengers during the cruise portion of the flight. Hawaiian Airlines representatives tell Maui Now that passengers in the forward section of the Boeing 767 experienced an unpleasant odor and were temporarily located further back in the aircraft.
About half way to Maui, the first class section and premium section passengers “started to cough,” and “the flight attendants could barely talk or see,” said Maui resident Kevin Olson who described the incident as “scary.”
Upon arrival at Kahului Airport, first responders treated and released 12 passengers and three flight attendants for respiratory issues.
“Out of an abundance of caution, the flight crew declared an emergency to obtain handling priority into and at OGG,” said airline spokesperson Alex Da silva.
Once the odor dissipated, passengers were allowed to return to their seats.
The flight landed without incident at 10:37 a.m. with 256 passengers and 10 crew members on board.
“The TSA prohibits the transport of pepper sprays as a carry-on item,” said Da silva, who explained that the canister was brought on board illegally by a passenger. “Authorities were questioning a passenger and investigating what appears to have been an accidental cannister discharge,” he said.
Prior to HA23 departing from Oakland, 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.”
Olson said a juvenile aboard the plane ‘air dropped’ a photo that was considered offensive to those on board.
To resume the flight as quickly as possible and minimize the inconvenience to guests, airline representatives say the teenager and the family were re-booked on a later flight while the incident was investigated.
The incident resulted in the delayed departure of the flight by 89 minutes while the bags of the family were located and removed.
“We sincerely apologize for the inconveniences aboard HA23, and are providing all passengers a $500 travel credit,” said Da silva.
The flight was scheduled to depart Oakland for Kahului at 7 a.m., but according to the online flight status, the actual departure time was 8:29 a.m. The flight was scheduled to arrive in Kahului at 9:25 a.m. HST, but the actual arrival time was 10:42 a.m. according to flight status data.