Southwest Passenger Allegedly Chokes Woman Over Reclined Seat

The flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco was forced to make an emergency landing over the incident.

A Southwest Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Los Angeles on Sunday night after a passenger allegedly tried to choke another traveler in an apparent dispute over reclining seats. 

Flight 2010 from Los Angeles to San Francisco declared an emergency and returned to LAX after only 13 minutes in flight, according to KGO. 

"I thought it was a terrorist so I jumped up. I didn't know what to do. A guy got into it with a lady and choked her or something," comedian and radio host Mark Curry told NBC Bay Area. "The lady was frantic. They wanted me to put restraints on the guy. They asked me if I would help. I said, 'At 30,000 feet, yes! I'll beat anybody down.' It was an incredible situation."

A passenger identified only as Melanie wrote in German on Instagram that the flight made an emergency landing because of "a man strangling a woman because she tilts her seat back," according to a Google translation of her comments, which have since been removed or made private. 

Southwest told the Los Angeles Times that the incident was a "physical altercation" between two passengers and said the pilot declared an emergency to give it priority to land. 

After the plane returned, one passenger was removed while the remaining 136 passengers were put on a different plane bound for San Francisco, according to USA Today. 

No arrest has been made at this time, and the investigation is continuing,” Laura Eimiller, a spokeswoman with the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The allegations involve the assault of a fellow passenger, but no charges have been filed.”

Inside Edition reports that a diverted flight costs an airline $200,000.

Disputes over reclining seats have become increasingly common as legroom shrinks. Last year, a flight was diverted in a dispute over legroom caused by the use of a device known as the Knee Defender, which stops seats from fully reclining. 


Also on HuffPost:

The 10 Best Coach-Class Airlines in the World