“There was no warning about this particular air patch,” he said.
The seat belt sign was on at the time, but some of the injured were not wearing seat belts, Mr. Schnook said. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate, he said.
“We have to look back at the investigation to understand what other actions were taken apart from the seat belt sign,” he added.
Thomas Vaughan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Honolulu, said there was a weather advisory for thunderstorms at the time of the turbulence.
“They may have flown into a thunderstorm,” he said.
Kaylee Reyes, a passenger on Flight HA35, told Hawaii News Now that the turbulence came out of nowhere and resulted in her mother, who was unbuckling her seat belt, being thrown up and banged against the ceiling of the plane’s cabin.
In recent years, other passengers have faced similarly frightening turbulence, resulting in injuries on board. In 2019, 30 people were treated for injuries at New York’s Kennedy International Airport when a plane encountered severe turbulence. In 2015, 21 passengers were injured aboard an Air Canada flight when sudden and violent turbulence ejected passengers from their seats.
Jim Ireland, the director of Honolulu’s Emergency Services Department, said at the news conference it was “fortunate there were no fatalities or other serious injuries.”
“It’s holidays, everyone is trying to vacation here or go back home,” he said. “It’s generally a time when people are happy. And that’s obviously something they didn’t plan on coming here.”
Livia Albeck-Ripka contributed reporting.