• Switzerland's news in English
 

Reclining seat row sparked Swiss plane fight

Malcolm Curtis · 5 Sep 2012, 13:10

Published: 04 Sep 2012 11:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 05 Sep 2012 13:10 GMT+02:00

A 57-year-old man having dinner on the Airbus 340 became upset when a 29-year-old man sitting in front of him refused to raise his seat to the upright position, Blick.ch reports.

“The elder of the two was irritated,” Valerie Sprenger, a tour guide from Saint Gallen who was sitting four rows away, told the German-language website.

“As the young man did not respond to his yells, (the older man) struck him with the flat of his hand on the head,” said Sprenger, who was accompanying a tour group of 27 people to Beijing.

The younger man responded by shoving his assailant in the chest and soon they were wrestling on the floor, she said.

The incident occurred as the aircraft was flying over Russia near Moscow, about four and a half hours after take-off and with 200 passengers on board.

As the situation deteriorated the captain made the decision to return the plane to Zurich.

The head cabin steward attempted to mediate the quarrel but the older man attacked him, Sprenger said.

“Thank God, a strong passenger came to the rescue.”

A brief video on the Blick.ch website shows a chaotic scene with airline staff tending to a head injury received by the older combatant.

The injured man seemed to be “pretty drunk”, Sprenger said.

The cabin crew bound his hands with a cable and placed him in the back row of the plane where he cried out for an hour, she said.   

Zurich cantonal police, who arrested the two combatants, confirmed that alcohol was involved in the case.

Not everyone was happy with the decision of the captain to return to Zurich, where the Swiss airline put up passengers in a hotel for the night.

The airline re-booked flights to Beijing for the passengers with other carriers.

A machine factory manager from Germany aboard the plane said he missed 20 meetings in China and he couldn’t understand why the two men couldn’t have been dealt with by Chinese authorities.

“You could have them both checked with the Beijing police,” he told Blick.ch.

“Then we would have not had all these troubles.”

UPDATE: Zurich justice authorities on Tuesday said the 57-year-old man who started the fight paid a fine and a portion of the administrative costs before being released from custody. 

The amount of the fine was not released.

Since no-one filed assault charges, Zurich authorities charged the man with "disturbing public transport".

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

2012-09-11 02:10:50 by stablemate77
think the younger guy should have to drunk china.man out....clearly not what should go on in air....really people chair must go up only at takeoff and landing.....guess china man didnt get deal in europe....smile)
Today's headlines
Refugee crisis
Expats in Switzerland mobilize for refugees
A refugee sits by his tent in Calais. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Expats in Switzerland mobilize for refugees

5 hours ago

Moved by the tragic images in recent days of the plight of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe, some expats in Switzerland are taking matters into their own hands to try and help, finds The Local.

New fears for livestock after Swiss bear sighting
Photo: Daniel Mosch/File

New fears for livestock after Swiss bear sighting

5 hours ago

A hunter in the Swiss canton of Graubünden has reported seeing a bear in the Val du Roggiasca, part of the Val Mesolcina near the Italian border, the first bear sighting in that particular area since 1904.

IOC starts $2 million fund to help refugees
IOC President Thomas Bach. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP

IOC starts $2 million fund to help refugees

5 hours ago

The Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced a two million dollar fund on Friday that will be made available to National Olympic Committees for programmes focused on refugees.

Husband arrested after Pully wife shot at home
The incident happened in Pully, a suburb of Lausanne. Photo: Ville de Pully

Husband arrested after Pully wife shot at home

7 hours ago

Police arrested a 28-year-old man in the early hours of Thursday morning after his wife was shot in the apartment they shared with their children in Pully, in the canton of Vaud.

US Open tennis
Swiss pair rolls into US Open third round
Federer only needed 80 minutes to win over Steve Darcis. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images North America/AFP

Swiss pair rolls into US Open third round

9 hours ago

Swiss tennis stars Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka both rolled into the US Open third round on Thursday, with 17-time Grand Slam winner Federer still finding ways to improve his game at age 34.

Swiss bishops: we are open to gay people
Vitus Huonder caused outrage with his remarks in July. Photo: Swiss Conference of Bishops

Swiss bishops: we are open to gay people

1 day ago

The Catholic church is open to all, regardless of sexuality, the Swiss Conference of Bishops has said in its first official statement since the controversial comments of Bishop Vitus Huonder at the end of July.

Swiss freeze assets of Malaysian state fund
Protestors reflected in a portrait of Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. Photo: Mohd Rasfan/AFP

Swiss freeze assets of Malaysian state fund

1 day ago

Swiss authorities said on Thursday they had frozen tens of millions of dollars in assets as part of an investigation into Malaysia's troubled state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Merkel to talk up free movement in Swiss visit
Photo: John Macdougall/AFP

Merkel to talk up free movement in Swiss visit

1 day ago

German chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to reiterate Europe’s commitment to the free movement of people during an official visit to Switzerland on Thursday, only her second in ten years.

Swiss target airlines in asylum crackdown
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Swiss target airlines in asylum crackdown

1 day ago

Airlines which transport passengers illegally into Switzerland will be subject to steep fines from October 1st in a new rule that aims to cut down on the number of asylum seekers.

Fifa reform body holds first meeting in Bern
Photo: AFP

Fifa reform body holds first meeting in Bern

2 days ago

A 12-member committee set up by Fifa to draw up far-reaching reforms to the Zurich-based world governing body for football in the wake of a corruption scandal met for the first time in Bern on Wednesday.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
Getting the lowdown on Swiss import duties for stuff bought abroad
National
One million people throng Zurich techno street party
National
Where are Switzerland's priciest babysitters?
Features
Farmers’ wives offer visitors genuine slice of life in rural Switzerland
National
Switzerland set to test world's longest train tunnel under the Alps
National
US right-wing think tank: Swiss are freest people in Europe
National
Bottoms up: new signs alert visitors to Zurich's nudist bathing zones
Sport
Swiss man smashes cliff jumping record with 59-metre dive
National
Climate change seen as plus for Switzerland's wine growers
Photo: Federal Housing Office
National
Buying home in Switzerland is 'cheaper than renting'
National
Central bank to launch new high-tech banknotes — six years late
National
Swiss speed climber summits all 4,000m peaks in the Alps
National
Report: Switzerland is world's safest country (barring extreme sports)
National
Where are the top ten spots to visit in Switzerland for tourists?
National
Two Japanese climbers found dead after scaling Matterhorn's summit
National
High Geneva accommodation costs force unpaid UN intern to live in tent
National
Zurich farmer ordered to remove cow bells after noise complaints
National
Gays file criminal complaint against Swiss bishop over speech
National
The Expat Guide: Moving to Switzerland
National
Briton who ends life in Switzerland: 'Ideal shelf life for people is 70'
National
Aargau farmer under fire after pigs gassed to death by own excrement
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
National
Hot times: Swiss city to host first naked performance festival
Features
Expat American author's time in Zurich inspires racy bestseller
National
10 amazing places to be on Swiss National Day — or any other day
National
Swiss army pilfers water from French lake for cows in Switzerland
National
Swiss Army airlifts water to thirsty cows facing drought conditions
International
Canary Islands: diver killed in collision with Swiss windsurfer
National
VIDEO: Seagull steals camera for amazing bird's eye selfie
Switzerland celebrates first ascent of Matterhorn
Politics
Immigrant recruits may not be loyal: Swiss defence minister
Solar Impulse 2 round-the-world flight halted for repairs
Society
Teenager gets high on vegetarian meal at Zurich club
National
Greece seeks tax revenues from assets 'hidden' in Swiss banks
Culture
Paris police arrest Swiss artist for naked Eiffel Tower selfies
National
Scientists uncover largest Swiss dinosaur skeleton ever found
National
National weather office extends danger alerts as heatwave takes hold
National
Most severe heatwave in Switzerland since 2003 on the way
Travel
Bogglingly expensive Geneva club sandwiches remain 'priciest in world'
Politics
Anti-immigration nationalist party remains most popular: poll
National
Greek finance minister slams Swiss over lack of tax evasion info
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

4,446
jobs available