Multiple people got sick after a passenger brought pepper spray on a Hawaiian Airlines plane

Wikimedia CommonsA Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767-300.
  • A Hawaiian Airlines plane made an emergency landing in Maui on Friday after a canister of pepper spray discharged mid-flight, causing multiple passengers and flight attendants to become ill.
  • The TSA confirmed to Business Insider that the small, personal-size pepper-spray canister involved in the incident was seized upon landing
  • Fifteen passengers and crew had to be treated for respiratory problems upon landing.
  • In an odd twist, this same Hawaiian Airlines flight was delayed prior to take-off after a 15-year-old girl reportedly shared a graphic but staged crime-scene photo with multiple passengers on the plane while trying to text message her mother.

A Hawaiian Airlines jet made an emergency landing on Friday after a canister of pepper spray discharged mid-flight, causing multiple passengers and flight attendants to become ill. Some of them required medical attention upon landing.

Hawaiian Airlines Flight 23, a Boeing 767-300ER, was en route to the island of Maui in Hawaii from Oakland, California, when the incident took place.

Hawaiian Airlines Flight 23 departed from Oakland International Airport at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, August 31 en route to Kahului. According to Hawaiian News Now, numerous people in first and premium classes began coughing and complaining about burning eyes roughly three hours into the flight. A baby also vomited, one passenger told the publication.

Flight attendants temporarily relocated passengers to the back of the plane to allow the odor to clear before they were allowed to return to their seats.

“During the cruise portion of the flight from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to Maui’s Kahului Airport (OGG), passengers in the forward section of the Boeing 767 experienced an unpleasant odor,” Hawaiian Airlines said in a statement to Business Insider. “Out of an abundance of caution, the flight crew declared an emergency to obtain handling priority into and at OGG.”

The plane landed in Kahului, Hawaii, around 10:30 a.m local time.

Fifteen people had to be treated for respiratory problems upon landing, including 12 passengers and three flight attendants, the airline said. All were later released.

According to the airline, the odor came from a pepper-spray canister “brought on board illegally by a passenger.”

Pepper spray in canisters as large as four ounces are allowed on flights, but only if it’s stored in checked luggage, according to the website for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The TSA confirmed to Business Insider that the agency and the Maui Police Department are investigating the matter. The agency added that the civil penalty for bringing pepper spray onto an aeroplane can reach $US1,960. In some cases, the TSA told us, “aggravating circumstances” can push the penalty even higher.

“The TSA has authority to access civil penalties of up to $US13,000 for travellers who bring weapons to airports,” the agency said.

In an odd twist, the same Hawaiian Airlines Flight was delayed prior to take-off due to an unrelated incident in which a 15-year-old teenage girl reportedly shared a graphic but staged crime-scene photo with multiple passengers on the plane. According to the Washington Post, the teen had been trying to AirDrop the photograph to her mother via Bluetooth technology and instead connected to multiple cell phone networks on the plane.

After being notified of the text messages, the pilot returned to the gate, and the flight was delayed an hour and a half while investigators looked into the matter. The girl and her mother were led off the flight and questioned by Alameda County sheriff’s deputies but were cleared of any crime, the Post reported. The teen and her family were rebooked on a later flight.

Hawaiian Airlines has apologised for the two unrelated incidents and compensated passengers with a $US500 credit.

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