A United flight bound for Las Vegas had to be rerouted after two male passengers became embroiled in a physical altercation over ‘elbow placement’ on armrests.
The incident occurred last Friday afternoon, less than 15 minutes after takeoff from San Francisco International Airport.
The aircraft returned to San Francisco, where the two men were subsequently escorted off the plane. They were both detained by police, but neither was seriously injured.
According to SFGate, neither of the men sought to press charges and they were subsequently released. However, they were barred from re-boarding the United flight.
Fellow passenger Jack Krawczyk shared a photo from inside the plane, which showed a police officer trying to remove the two men from the aircraft.
‘Of course we were rerouted back to the gate because two passengers got into a physical altercation over elbow placement upon arm rests,’ he wrote.
His tweet quickly went viral and prompted enthusiastic debate about ‘ownership’ of the armrests and who was to blame for the fiasco.
‘Look, the rules are simple,’ one wrote. ‘Aisle gets the leg room, Window seat gets the window, Middle seat gets the two armrests. So it has always been, so it shall always be. Figure it out people’.
Airlines are seeing a surge in anti-social behavior as air travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.
There have been 1,300 reports of unruly passengers in the three months between February and May, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
One Twitter user blamed COVID-19 for the spike in bad behavior, writing: ‘It’s the ‘Flight or Flight’ situation for many people who can’t tolerate overcrowding and/or being hemmed in by others. Since there’s no way they can flee… the fight is on’.
However, another said it was the fault of airlines for cramming customers into tiny spaces.
‘The airlines themselves are to blame for this. They keep packing people in like sardines inhumanely and passengers get stressed. When their policies cause them to lose money they will change’.
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