Some weary, but most likely grateful passengers arrived at LAX early today on flight 254 from Kahului Airport on Maui in Hawaii. It was supposed to be a direct flight, but some kind of malfunction shortly after take-off prompted the pilot to make an emergency landing at Honolulu International Airport on the island of Oahu.
I was on that plane, returning from my Hawaiian vacation/honeymoon. About 45 minutes or so into the flight the pilot suddenly announced: “Flight attendants prepare for landing.” I’m a reluctant flyer and that surprise order out of the blue had me throwing a power grip on my husband’s arm. Also, it got some loud gasps from some of the other passengers.
The pilot followed with a very brief explanation saying there was a problem with “air conditioning” and therefore, he could not take the jetliner across the Pacific Ocean to the mainland.
The airliner was packed with passengers. There was no panic, however, an eerie silence fell over the cabin. All sorts of things were running through my mind like, gee the flight departed late from Maui (at 3:10 p.m instead of the scheduled 2:20 p.m.) — was that because of some issue with the plane? Oh, what about all that fuel for the trip to LAX?
There was a group of fire trucks waiting when we landed at the Honolulu Airport at around 4:15 p.m. The pilot asked the passengers to remain seated while the fire crews “checked the wheels.” Apparently, the wheels passed inspection and the plane soon taxied to the gate. One of the flight attendants announced each passenger could use their boarding pass to get a $12 discount towards a meal at the airport and that we should return to gate 19 in an hour and a half. Oh, we were told to take all of our personal belongings and carry-on luggage with us.
As we deplaned, I could hear chatter among the passengers about missed connection flights, screwed up transportation arrangements from LAX, and questions about the plane’s mechanical issue.
The unscheduled layover was longer than 90 minutes. We did not take-off until after 7:30 p.m. The pilot apologized for the delay, assuring us the plane’s “pressurization” problem had been fixed. Also, he warned we would be encountering “choppy air” during the flight. That was an understatement. The turbulence rocked, bumped, and tossed the plane throughout the trip. We finally touched down at LAX just before 2:30 a.m., nearly five hours behind schedule.
At LAX, I asked some American Airlines staff and crew members about the plane’s mechanical issue. Got no answers, just versions of “don’t know.” One of them handed me a computer printout, which provided some details on how to contact the airline’s customer service via U.S. mail or the Internet.
This was a bummer of an ending to my first visit to Hawaii and a wonderful vacation. Glad to be back in the Southland.