The Boeing 777 was heading to Guam on Thursday when it was diverted. United said replacement aircraft brought passengers back to Honolulu Friday morning.
The Navy used the atoll 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu as a base during the Cold War but left in 1996.
It's now a national wildlife refuge home to more than 1 million seabirds, green sea turtles and endangered Hawaiian monk seals.
The island's residents manage the airstrip and wildlife refuge.
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