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'Unruly passengers' force Los Angeles-bound flight to turn back to Hawaii

The altercation started when one passenger bumped into another, fellow passengers said.
Passengers on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles had to deplane because of an altercation between other passengers.
Passengers on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles had to deplane because of an altercation between other passengers.Stanson Chung / via Instagram

A Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu destined for Los Angeles was forced to turn around midway Tuesday night due to an altercation between "two unruly passengers," according to the airline.

The verbal altercation that started after one passenger bumped another while reclining a seat quickly escalated, several others on the flight said.

Justin Moore-Brown, 35, from Redondo Beach, California, told NBC News he started hearing yelling behind him about two and a half hours into the flight.

"Two men started yelling at each other and as one walked away, he pointed to the woman sitting with the man and told her to 'stay out of it,'” he said.

According to Stanson Chung, one of the passengers ultimately charged at the other.

Chung, 30, who was traveling back to Los Angeles after attending a wedding in Hawaii, said he saw a passenger running down the aisle. That's when a flight attendant intervened and tried to restrain one of the passengers.

Multiple passengers told NBC News they believe the flight attendant who was trying to restrain the passenger may have suffered a minor injury; however, no injuries were officially reported following the incident, according to the airline.

Chung captured video of the flight's passengers when an overhead voice announced that “the situation required us to use our security procedures and return to Honolulu.”

"Everyone made a collective sigh. We just couldn’t believe it. Some people had connecting flights, some people had to work the next day, like me. We were asking the flight attendant, ‘Do we really have to head back?’" Chung said.

The flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles takes approximately 5 hours. According to Chung, their flight was already more than two hours in the air when the incident took place.

The flight crew also instructed passengers to take their carry-on luggage with them back to the terminal in Honolulu and said the airline would arrange for them to get on a new flight.

Hawaiian Airlines issued a statement after the incident.

“Hawaiian Airlines Flight 2 departed Honolulu for Los Angeles at 2:50 p.m. local time. Approximately two hours into the flight, the captain elected to return the aircraft to Honolulu due to two unruly passengers. Local law enforcement met the aircraft upon arrival at 6:38 p.m. There were 276 passengers and 11 crew onboard. Safety is our priority, and we apologize to our guests for the inconvenience. The new departure time is 8 p.m.”

Once the plane landed back in Honolulu, the two men who had argued were escorted off the plane.