That Escalated Quickly: Southwest Passenger Chokes Woman for Reclining Her Seat Back

Oh, domestic air travel. Things got nasty on a Southwest flight yesterday evening (as in, “divert the plane back to the airport” nasty) when two passengers got into an altercation about…wait for it…a reclining chair.

The fight, which took place on a San Francisco-bound flight out of LAX that was already running late, allegedly arose after a passenger reclined her chair back onto another passenger. According to an eyewitness who spoke with NBC Bay Area, the passenger was so upset about the reclined seat that he started choking the woman. Creepier still is the report that he “stayed very calm during the whole situation.”

On the audio transmission of the flight, the pilot can be heard saying, “Evidently, we’ve got two passengers who are in a physical altercation, so we need to get turned around back to LAX.”  After spending just 13 minutes in the air, the flight returned to LAX at 10:43 p.m. local time, where law enforcement officials met the plane to detain the passenger for questioning. Finally, the plane switched gates, the passengers re-boarded, and the plane took off again, landing in San Francisco around 2 a.m., nearly five hours after it was scheduled to arrive.

Possibly the craziest thing about this story is the fact that the LAX-SFO flight is only an hour and twenty minutes long. Who knows, though? The man’s nerves must have already been frazzled from the delay. Maybe if he’d had an on-board shower none of this would have happened. Then again, things are starting to look up as far as travel goes. We hope.