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Seat recline causes mid-air passenger altercation

A Southwest Airline jet made an emergency landing back to LAX after two passengers began a physical altercation.

Southwest Airline flight 2010 turned back shortly after take-off when a male passenger reportedly began to choke the woman in front of him after she reclined her seat.

Spokeswoman for Southwest Airlines, Melissa Ford, said the flight, which was bound for San Francisco, turned back about an hour after take-off due to a “rapidly escalating situation involving passengers who were not traveling together.”

In an audio from the flight, the pilot said, “Flight 2010, declaring an emergency. Evidently we’ve got two passengers that are in a physical altercation.” Ford said the captain declared an emergency to receive priority for landing.

Witnesses said a woman reclined her seat when the man sitting behind reached around and tried to strangler her. The woman was shouting he grabbed her neck, saying “He choked me! He choked me! He hit me in the head!”

FBI agents met the plane at the gate on Sunday removing the man from the Boeing 737. The man accused of trying to strangle the female passenger was detained by L.A. Airport police, but according to L.A. FBI spokeswoman, Laura Eimiller, no immediate arrests were made, however an investigaion is underway.

The remaining 136 passengers from the flight boarded another flight for San Francisco around 12:20 a.m. The International Air Transport Association says it costs an airline about $200,000 every time a flight is diverted.

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