LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A United Airlines 757 returned to Los Angeles International Airport after departing on Saturday possibly due to a mechanical issue.

City News Service reports that the Hawaii-bound flight landed safely about 11:40 a.m. after a report of smoke in the cockpit.

A spokesperson for LAX confirmed to CBS2 that Flight No. 1296 was outbound from LAX with 147 people on board.

One passenger told KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz that he started seeing smoke about 30 minutes into the flight.

“It wasn’t that thick to where it was coming across the ceiling and dropping down. But it was just a light haze,” the passenger said. “It was never at any point so thick that you couldn’t see.”

Other passengers described the incident as “scary.”

One man told Mertz, “When they told us that we might have a fighter escort, and that we were going to land on some island off the coast instead of LAX, and we had life vests on, it was entirely different.”

Another passenger said, “We tried to keep our kids calm. Make sure that the kids had their masks on. It’s scary for a little kid to be in that situation so we had to talk them into it. Unfortunately, our daughter was scared so we had to hold hers on, physically.”

Shortly after the flight landed, a city firefighter radioed in to report that the jet had experienced a hydraulics problem over sea, Mertz said.

No injuries were reported.

Charles Hobart, a spokesperson from United Airlines, said, “The flight returned to Los Angeles after our inflight crew reported smoke in the cabin an hour into the flight. We are working to re-accommodate our customers and the aircraft will undergo a thorough inspection by our maintenance crew.”

CBS2’s Greg Mills spoke with a family of four who were on the flight. They described the trip as harrowing.

The passengers told Mills that about an hour and a half into the flight, while over the ocean, they could see smoke in the cabin.

They described the smoke to Mills as “a light haze with a chemical smell.”

The passengers told him the smoke first appeared to be coming from a front galley but then realized it was more concentrated in a back galley.

The captain told passengers to put on oxygen masks and life jackets. He told them he might have to put the plane down on a small island off the California coast.

Passengers were then instructed by the cabin crew how to prepare for an emergency landing.

The family of four Mills spoke to decided to cancel their trip to Kona.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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