Hawaiian Airlines: Third time wasn’t a charm for unlucky flight 33

The plane, loaded with more than 200 people, tried three times to fly from Los Angeles to Hawaii. But every single attempt went wrong.

A Hawaiian Airlines flight appeared to be cursed by its own number after it was extraordinarily forced to return to the gate for a variety of different reasons before eventually being cancelled.

Flight 33 took off from Los Angeles International Airport bound for Maui on Saturday but landed back at LAX shortly after.

It took off a second time, but the same thing happened.

A third attempt to push off was also aborted, with the jet returning to the gate.

And after three unsuccessful attempts to fly to Maui, flight 33 was cancelled.

Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva said the three incidents were caused by three different reasons.

He said each return to LAX was “due to separate and unrelated faults with different systems”, but didn’t elaborate.

The more than 200 passengers were given accommodation and placed on other flights to Maui.


We all know the first two letters of a flight number denotes the airline.

But is there any significance to the actual digits that follow?

Generally, the lower the flight number, the more prestigious the route — such as Qantas’ Sydney-London service, QF1.

It also matters whether your flight has an odd or even number. There are exceptions, but flights heading east or north are often given even numbers and those heading west or south are assigned odd numbers.

Qantas uses odd numbers for outbound international flights (like the London-bound QF1) and even numbers for inbound international flights (like QF44 from Denpasar to Sydney).

On Qantas flights, numbers between 1 and 399 are international flights, including codeshare, while flight numbers higher than 400 are domestic flights.

Generally, across most airlines, four-digit flight numbers beginning with a 3 or higher indicates codeshare flights operated by partners.

For example, British Airways flight BA7420 is a codeshare flight from Auckland to Sydney operated by Qantas.


Airlines have a fair bit of freedom in assigning flight numbers and some can be quite creative. American Airlines flight AA1776 from Boston to Philadelphia, for example, is said to pay tribute to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which happened in Philadelphia in 1776.

Superstition sometimes influences numbers. Many airlines have incorporated the number 8 into their Asian routes because that number is considered lucky in many Asian cultures.

United Airlines’ flight from San Francisco to Beijing, for example, is UA888.

“Lucky” numbers are sometimes also used on flights to popular gambling destinations.

Then there are the numbers airlines don’t like to use.

Sometimes that’s also due to superstition, which rules out “unlucky” numbers 13 and 666. Another rarely seen number is 911.

Airlines traditionally retire numbers of crashed flights. The Kuala Lumpur to Beijing route formerly flown by Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 now uses the number MH360.

United Airlines and American Airlines, which had planes hijacked in the September 11 attacks, renumbered the affected flights.

But in the absence of superstition or tragedy, flight numbers can stay with airlines for a very long time.

“Numbers can stay in use for many years, even as departure times and aircraft types may change,” pilot Patrick Smith previously told news.com.au.

“In some cases they outlast airlines themselves. To this day, some of the flight numbers used by Delta on its European routes trace their origins back to Pan Am, whose European network was sold to Delta more than 20 years ago.”

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