Turbulance forces flight back to Oahu - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Turbulance forces flight back to Oahu

Jeff Ramseyer Jeff Ramseyer

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Hawaii to California were alarmed when their plane had to return to the islands Monday night to pick up more fuel.

Tuesday night the plane was safely back in the air and United had explained the fuel situation.

There were 323 passengers on United flight #34 from Maui to San Francisco. They were more than an hour into their trip when air traffic control asked the pilot to fly at a lower altitude (10,000 ft.) to avoid turbulence. But flying at lower altitudes burns more fuel -- and the pilot did not think the plane would have enough gas to reach its destination.

"About half way through they said, 'You've probably noticed we've turned the plane around and we're going to land on Oahu at seven,'" said passenger Jeff Ramseyer, a San Francisco resident. "And people didn't know what was going on, so they came on several times after and tried to explain there was not enough fuel on the plane because we were going at a low altitude. There were a few people who were a little panicked, but generally it was OK," Ramseyer added.

The Boeing 777 returned to Honolulu to gas up, but by then the crew was approaching its maximum flight time as allowed by law so the flight was grounded.

United put passengers in hotels for the night and got them back in the air with a rested crew and gassed-up plane Tuesday afternoon.

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