By Cynthia Drescher. Photos: Getty.
There was trouble en route to paradise yesterday, when a passenger onboard a Hawaiian Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Honolulu became so angry over the $12 price for a blanket that the plane diverted and landed in Los Angeles. The incident began shortly after the plane took off from Vegas, when the 66-year-old passenger began to feel cold and sought out a flight attendant to ask for a blanket. After being told the price, the passenger then demanded to speak to the airline's main office and, during the resulting in-flight phone call, he allegedly used the phrase, “I would like to take someone behind the woodshed for this.” The flight diverted to LAX with the report of an "unruly passenger," and the man was escorted off the plane before it resumed its flight to Hawaii.
Reached for comment on the matter, a Hawaiian Airlines representative shared this statement with Condé Nast Traveler: "Our flight crews are responsible for the safety and comfort of all passengers on board our flights and the captain in charge of the aircraft is entrusted with determining when it’s best to deplane an anxious or unruly passenger. Diverting a flight is clearly not our first choice, but our crew felt it was necessary in this case to divert to Los Angeles and deplane the passenger before beginning to fly over the Pacific Ocean."
To enjoy complimentary pillows and blankets, plus more legroom and access to all the on-demand movies and TV shows of the plane’s entertainment system, travelers flying Hawaiian Airlines must book “Extra Comfort” seats, which average $150 more than regular economy, round-trip, for flights between the mainland and Hawaii. Split that and it’s $75 each way, which is on par or lower than with what other airlines, like United and Delta, charge for seats with just extra legroom.
Paying for extras while in flight is hardly new. In 2008, JetBlue became the first U.S. airline to offer paid blankets on domestic flights, selling “the world’s cleanest travel pillow and blanket kit” for $7 (now reduced to $6). American Airlines followed in 2010, discontinuing free blankets for coach on flights in the U.S. and to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Instead, passengers in the back of the plane were given the option to purchase an inflatable neck pillow and fleece blanket “comfort pack” for $8. On Alaska Airlines, passengers face a fee of $8 to $10 for rental of an electronic tablet loaded up with entertainment options. And on ultra-low-cost airlines like Spirit and Frontier, even a drink of water incurs a $3 charge.
Despite the blanket fee, Hawaiian Airlines still provides one nicety most other airlines do not: a complimentary hot meal. It's too bad the fuming passenger wasn't onboard long enough to find out.
This story originally appeared on Conde Nast Traveler.
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