Dear Travelers: Please Don’t Choke Your Fellow Passengers Over Reclined Seats

Last fall, airlines suffered a spate of incidents in which travelers just couldn’t agree on the proper etiquette regarding reclining seats, leading to a number of trips being diverted mid-flight. While that unfortunate trend seemed to dissipate for a time, it’s apparently back, and more violent than before: a Southwest Airlines flight made an emergency landing this weekend after one passenger choked another over a reclined seat. 

The Sunday evening flight, traveling to San Francisco, returned to Los Angeles when a fight broke out between two passengers, NBC News reports.

Witnesses say the incident started shortly after takeoff when a man reportedly began choking the woman sitting in front of him, simply because she tilted back her seat.

Crew came to the woman’s aid and the pilot took steps to return to Los Angeles. A spokesperson for the airline confirmed that the flight made the emergency landing, citing a “rapidly escalating situation” between two passengers.

“Our initial information is that flight attendants swiftly coordinated with pilots on the flight deck to get the aircraft on the ground safely and quickly after a physical altercation by one passenger against another,” a spokesperson for the airline tells CNN.

Upon returning to the airport, authorities met the plane at a gate. The FBI tells NBC News that an individual was detained, for questioning but no arrests have been made. The investigation is ongoing.

The remaining 136 passengers were transferred to another plane and arrived in San Francisco early Monday, about five hours after their scheduled arrival time, CNN reports.

Southwest Airlines passenger chokes woman for tilting her seat back [NBC News]
Southwest Airlines flight turns back to LAX amid violence on board [CNN]

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