An Air Canada flight was diverted to Hawaii after a sudden case of severe turbulence left 35 customers with minor injuries, the carrier says in a statement.

Flight AC33, carrying 269 passengers and 15 crew, was flying from Vancouver to Sydney when the Boeing 777 aircraft “encountered unforecasted and sudden turbulence approximately two hours past Hawaii”, the carrier said on Thursday.

The plane was diverted to Honolulu and landed at 12.45pm on Thursday (0145 AEST Friday 12th July).

“As a precaution, medical personnel are on standby to examine passengers in Honolulu,” the carrier said.

The carrier’s initial reports were of 25 people with minor injuries.

Passengers told news reporters the turbulence tossed people into the air, some hitting the ceiling, the Associated Press reports.

“We hit turbulence and we all hit the roof and everything fell down, and stuff … people went flying,” passenger Jess Smith told CBC News.


“I watched a whole bunch of people hit the ceiling of the plane,” said another passenger Alex MacDonald.

“A couple of the air hostesses were bringing food out at the time, and they hit the roof as well. But as a whole people seem to be OK; didn’t seem to be any major injuries.”

Passenger Luke Wheeldon told Honolulu news station KTIV about half the passengers weren’t wearing seatbelts. “There was no warning and then half of them, their head hit the roof all at once,” he said. “And I went, ‘Oh, this is a bad day.”‘

The turbulence happened at 36,000 feet (10,973 metres) about 966 kilometres southwest of Honolulu, said US Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.