Skip to Content

Southwest Airlines passenger allegedly choked over reclining seat

An attendant stands behind a ticket counter sign at the Southwest Airlines check-in counter at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.An attendant stands behind a ticket counter sign at the Southwest Airlines check-in counter at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.
An attendant stands behind a ticket counter sign at the Southwest Airlines check-in counter at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.Photograph by Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Southwest Airlines flight had to make an emergency landing Sunday night after a passenger allegedly attempted to choke another passenger over a dispute about reclining seats, The Huffington Post reports.

The flight was going from Los Angeles to San Francisco but had to return to LAX just 13 minutes into the flight. Coincidentally, comedian and former Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper star Mark Curry was aboard the plane and said he helped restrain the man who did the choking.

Southwest (LUV) only said that a “physical altercation” had occurred, but HuffPo cited since-removed Instagram posts from another passenger as saying that a man tried to strangle a woman because she leaned her seat back.

No arrests have been made. Problems with legroom and reclining have become commonplace in recent years as airlines continue to sacrifice passenger space to squeeze more seats onto planes.