Claustrophobic airline travelers seem increasingly disinclined to take being crunched and squeezed in silence. Another squabble over reclining seats caused a domestic flight to divert on Monday night, CNN reported. It’s the third serious legroom incident in just two weeks, a curious phenomenon that’s sparking debates in living rooms and cubicles across the country about the right to recline -- or to savor a few inches of space.
During Delta Air Lines Flight 2370 from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to West Palm Beach, Florida, a passenger became enraged when the traveler in front of her tried to recline her seat, a fellow passenger told CNN affiliate WPTV. The plane was rerouted to Jacksonville, Florida.
“The woman who was sitting next to me knitting actually just tried reclining her seat back,” Aaron Klipin told WPTV. “The woman behind her started screaming and swearing, and then a flight attendant came over and that just exacerbated what was going on, and then she demanded that the flight land.”
Delta confirmed the diversion. “Out of an abundance of caution, the Captain elected to divert to the closest airport,” the airline said in a statement to CNN.
On Aug. 27, an American Airlines flight was diverted to Boston after a similar dispute over reclining seats led to an arrest. Paris resident Edmund Alexandre reportedly became upset after the woman in front of him pushed her seat back during their trip from Miami to Paris. When a flight attendant tried to calm him down, Alexandre grabbed him by the arm. A federal air marshal subdued the passenger and he was arrested at Boston’s Logan International Airport for interfering with a flight crew.
That incident followed another high-profile altercation involving a Knee Defender, a set of small clips that prevents passengers from reclining their seats. A Denver-bound United Airlines flight was forced to land at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on August 24 after a man refused to remove the Knee Defender when asked by a flight attendant to do so. The woman in the seat ahead of him tossed a cup of water at the man. The squabble prompted the emergency landing.