Nobody likes that time of night on a flight when the lights dim and the passenger in front of you settles back into his chair and sets it to the full extent of its recline. Most of us deal with this as an everyday annoyance of air travel, but one man on Sunday took things to the next level.
A Ghana-bound United Airlines flight was escorted back to Washington Dulles International Airport by Air Force fighter jets shortly after takeoff Sunday night after bubbling tensions over a reclined seat. A passenger onboard allegedly smacked a fellow flier over the unwelcome seat recline, the Washington Post reports.
Soon after the United Airlines Boeing 767's 10:44 takeoff, a passenger lowered his seat, causing a fight to break out. A flight attendant and an uninvolved passenger tried to break it up, a source told the Washington Post on the condition of anonymity.
A similar disagreement occurred back in November when an unhappy passenger grabbed a reclining man's right ear and knocked off his glasses. However, this week's incident resulted in an even more physical reaction.
United confirmed that the plane had too much fuel to land and was forced to fly around Washington airspace for close to 25 minutes with the fighter jets escorting it in accordance with anti-terrorism policies. The two F-16 fighter jets were dispatched from Andrews Air Force Base after the pilot reported the disturbance, said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander William Lewis, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Air Force fighter jets have been held on standby to assist with such disturbances since September 11, 2001, and a rise in terrorist attempts on planes.
According to Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, police met the flight back at Dulles and decided that charges were not necessary. However, the flight was delayed until Monday.