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Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes

Updated Sep 2, 2014 - 5:48 pm

Airplane fights on the rise

In this Sept. 23, 2013 photo, rows of slimline seats await installation aboard a Southwest Airlines 737 at the carrier's headquarters in Dallas. "Seats are getting closer together," says Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents 60,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines. (AP Photo/John Mone)

PHOENIX -- Yet another airplane landed prematurely because of a heated feud involving reclining seats.

Late Monday, a Delta flight from New York to West Palm Beach, Fla., was diverted to Jacksonville, Fla., after a woman sparked an argument because the passenger in front of her reclined her seat.

According to ABC News, the woman was resting her head on the tray table in front of her when the other passenger reclined, causing the seat to hit her head. The woman then became furious and demanded the plane be landed so she could get off.

This is the third time in about a week that a flight has been rerouted because of a dispute over reclining seats.

Another argument occurred last month when a man prevented the passenger in front of him from reclining using a gadget called the Knee Defender.

Brent Bowen, the dean of the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University said the airlines are chiefly at fault for this trend.

"The airlines are heaping the frustrations on the customer," he told KTAR News' Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Tuesday. "Starting at the time when they buy the ticket and (they get) hit with all these fees, to the time they get to the airport and they have to face that computer screen with no person to help them (and) then security, there's plenty of angry people by the time they get on board the actual airline."

Airline seats only have about 17 inches of space per person, while seats in movie theaters have about 25.

Bowen said the airlines continue to pack people into their planes, even though the tight environment contributes to passengers' poor behaviors, because it increases their opportunities for profit.

"If they can make you maximum uncomfortable in the back of that airplane or in the middle seats, you'll pay more to sit up front with more leg room," he said.

To avoid more feuds over reclining seats in the future, Bowen recommended airlines switch to upright seats, like many already have. He said besides improving behavior, those seats are also safer because the stiffness makes them stronger.

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About the Author


Open and honest on the air, Bruce is deeply passionate about local and national issues affecting our community. Pamela brings a heavy news perspective while discussing the days most important topics.

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