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The Consumerist » Reclining Your Airplane Seat During Mealtime Could Ruin The Flight For Everyone

September 6, 2012
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You’re several thousand feet above the ground, squeezed into an uncomfortable seat and sitting between people who reek of cheap aftershave and airport concession nachos. And though everyone else on the plane is now enjoying — or at least eating — their in-flight meals, you just want to relax, so you hit the button on the armrest and recline your seat back a bit. Little do you know that these actions are about to ruin everyone’s day.

Just ask the 200 passengers on board a Swiss Airlines flight from Zurich to Beijing, who could do nothing as their plane turned around mid-flight and returned to Switzerland, all because one passenger needed to stretch out a bit — and picked the wrong time to do so.

According to reports, the man in the seat behind the reclining passenger was in the middle of eating his meal and was none-too-happy about having his dining disturbed by the suddenly shifting seat.

The eater allegedly slapped the head of the recliner and this quickly blew up into a fight that had both men rolling around in the aisles and needing to be physically separated.

The Daily Mail quotes a witness as saying, “The older of the two felt disturbed during his dinner. When the younger did not respond to his protests, he hit him on the head with the flat of his hand. It was a real slap.”

The older man was restrained using plastic straps while the pilot decided he was just going to turn this whole thing around and return to Zurich.

Back in Switzerland, the two brawlers were detained, but only the older man was ultimately arrested. He was ultimately released and fined for his bad behavior. Both men were reportedly ordered to pay legal fees.

Meanwhile, the other 198 passengers on board the plane did not get to go to Beijing, but did enjoy another night in Zurich on the airline’s dime. They were put on flights to Beijing the next day.

The Daily Mail says the two men could still be liable to repay the airline for some of the extra costs incurred by their in-flight fisticuffs.

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