I was on flight HA 30 from Kahului to Seattle on Dec 19 2021 (Dec 20 Zulu time).
FlightAware track log
FlightRadar24 track log

The descent looked anything but familiar. As you can see it reached over 5,400 fpm at times.
I definitely felt it.
After descending from FL410 to 10k MSL, the plane got back to 16k MSL before landing.
I have looked at the flightradar replay and it looks like the plane is heading to Portland, it follows the very same path as ASA834 and HAL26 (both Honolulu-Portland flights) in front of it. Could it be that it mistakenly started to descent towards Portland ?

HAL 26

Portland descent ?

ASA 834

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HAL30 at 10k MSL

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Full descent path

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All other flights coming from the Hawaii island towards Seattle that evening crossed into mainland way further north: HAL 22, DAL 489, ASA 942.

Do you find all this strange, could there have been an emergency or misunderstanding ?

Additional details, in response to questions asked:
  • We did have 2 stints of small hail hitting the airplane while descending, don't recall exactly when.
  • At the very start of the descent, the seatbelt sign was not on. A couple minutes later it went on and the plane immediately started descending visibly faster.


Got a response from Hawaiian Airlines Consumer Affairs Office

We've contacted our System Operation Control Center (SOCC) and they've stated that the weather in the area of Portland Aiport was poor and the dispatcher routed the plane to not encounter the poor weather and turbulence in the higher altitude around Portland.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ There must have been a legit reason for the odd descent sequence, and hearing this from someone in the know would be interesting. Voting to keep open. $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Dec 20, 2021 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Koyovis but the question asks "does x look routine" not for the explanation of someone in the know $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Dec 20, 2021 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Of note: FlightAware (which is usually accurate in this regard but not infallible) shows the route in question as CLUTS R465 CORTT ADTIL 3800N/13200W 4000N/13000W HEMLO ONP J136 BTG HAWKZ7 (Skyvector link). Other flights before and after the flight in question use APACK R463 AUNTI A332 HELOP A332 HEKAB FOZZI SEDAR LATAY HAWKZ7 (Skyvector link). $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Dec 21, 2021 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ Why we don’t ask the airline or pilots? Best opportunity is after the flight but also afterwards. It is not about blaming but curiosity. $\endgroup$
    – Peter
    Dec 22, 2021 at 21:51

1 Answer 1


Using liveatc.net was somewhat helpful; more helpful was using a silence skipper.
Hawaiian Thirty (HAL30) can be heard with:

(Timestamps apply to the downloaded mp3s and not the site's/browser's player as there's a discrepancy.)

The first recording captured only the ATC's side. The plane was instructed (male voice #1) to descend to 10,000 ft and fly at 250 knots by a certain location:

Hawaiian Thirty, [...] good evening, cross one five fifteen miles southwest of Newberg at maintain one zero thousand two five zero knots Portland altimeter two niner niner four.

Later the ATC transmitted:

Hawaiian Thirty, roger, just descend and maintain one zero thousand, do the best you can.

This typically means HAL30 was not able to reach that altitude by the given location. Later at around 28 minutes the ATC (female voice) gives a climb to 16,000 ft with "speed is at your discretion" and a direct-to a waypoint; ATC (male voice #2) then asks again for the 16,000 ft by adding "please", hinting at the climb was not the pilot's call.

Side note: typical pilot weather deviation is lateral, not vertical.

The early descent then climb could have been an ATC mistake thinking HAL30 was going to Portland and then they fixed it, or as @757toga suggests, it could have been a diversion due to weather that was cancelled; exactly what happened, liveatc does not have the answer in the linked recordings. Perhaps checking what the situation was like at Seattle in the prior hours may give more clues.

At least the steep descent can be explained by the crossing restriction that the pilots did their best to meet.

For posterity, this is Seattle's weather at the time:

KSEA 200753Z 01013KT 10SM BKN065 OVC200 03/01 A2997 RMK AO2 SLP157 T00280006 400720022 \$
KSEA 200653Z 02010KT 10SM FEW060 OVC200 02/01 A2997 RMK AO2 SLP159 T00220006 \$
KSEA 200553Z 01010KT 10SM FEW060 BKN200 03/01 A2998 RMK AO2 SLP161 T00280006 10056 20028 51008 \$
KSEA 200453Z 02012KT 10SM FEW050 BKN200 03/01 A2998 RMK AO2 SLP160 T00280011 \$

There's nothing that suggests a weather-related diversion; excellent visibility and non-gusting mild winds.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Dec 27, 2021 at 15:50

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