A Hawaiian Airlines flight experienced turbulence over the weekend so strong that it sent people flying out of their seats, injuring several flight attendants and passengers, including three who were hospitalized.
Five hours into an 11-hour flight from Honolulu to Sydney, Australia, on Friday, the plane began to experience “unexpected severe turbulence,” the Guardian reported.
“The plane just dropped. We weren’t prepared.” Sultan Baskonyali, a passenger aboard the chaotic flight, told ABC News.
The extreme turbulence caused the ceiling of the plane to bust open and oxygen masks to deploy, leaving passengers in a tizzy.
Amid the frenzy, some travelers shot out of their seats, banging their heads on the roof of the plane.
“There was a man in front of us who had gone all the way up. His head was on the roof. And dropped back down,” Baskonyali added.
Emergency services were at Sydney airport Friday evening when the plane, carrying 163 passengers and 12 crew, landed “without incident.”
First responders examined 12 passengers, including three who were hospitalized with injuries including back pain, according to a New South Wales ambulance spokesperson.
“Our immediate priority is to continue to care for our passengers and crew affected by this turbulence event, and we thank Sydney airport, first responders, for their swift assistance,” a Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson said.
The airline “conducted a thorough inspection of the aircraft” before it made its return flight for Honolulu later Friday evening.
The troubles come as US travelers experienced an unparalleled level of chaos going into the Fourth of July weekend as thousands of flights have been delayed or canceled over the last week.