• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

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.

Story continues below…

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
Swiss refuse to ban controversial weedkiller
File photo: Phillippe Huguen/AFP

Swiss farmers can continue to use the weedkiller glyphosate after the lower house of parliament decided on Friday not to ban it.

People in Switzerland ‘fly too much’ says environment body
File photo: Swiss International Air Lines

People in Switzerland travel by plane twice as much as their neighbours, a WWF spokesperson has said.

Bern: shared parental leave ‘too expensive’
Switzerland has no statutory paternity leave. File photo: Robert Valencia

Parliament rejects a bill which would have granted fathers some paternity leave.

UN: Fear of ageing 'shortens your life'
The number of people over 60 worldwide is set to double by 2025. Photo: Hernan Pinera

New data from the World Health Organization highlights the widespread prevalence of ageist attitudes worldwide.

Swiss helicopter crash: technical fault ruled out
Two pilots died in the crash on the Gotthard pass. Photo: Michael Buholzer/AFP

Technical failure was not to blame for the crash involving a Swiss army helicopter on the Gotthard pass on Thursday.

Turkey angry after Swiss tout ‘kebab ban’
Is banning the burqa as 'foolish' as banning the kebab? Photo: Jason Ramos

Turkish kebab chefs are up in arms after they misunderstood a spoof campaign to ban the kebab in Switzerland.

Study: Swiss ski resorts are losing their snow
Snow was thin on the ground in Gstaad last December. Photo: The Local

Could spring skiing soon be a thing of the past?

UBS fined $15m for misselling investments
File photo: Martin Abegglen

The Swiss private banking giant is accused of selling risky derivative investments to inexperienced investors in the US.

Two dead in Swiss army helicopter crash
The crash happened near the hospice on the Gotthard pass. File photo: swiss-image.ch/Heinz Schwab

Two people died and one other was injured when a helicopter crashed on the Gotthard pass in the Swiss alps on Wednesday.

Bern wants Swiss women to work longer
File photo: Candida Performa

The lower house of parliament has voted to extend women's retirement age by one year to 65.

Sponsored Article
7 tips for learning Swiss French
Photo: Lara de Salis
Features
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Lifestyle
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Politics
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
Lifestyle
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Politics
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Health
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
Lifestyle
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
National
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
National
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Politics
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Education
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
Photo: AFP
Society
Swiss ‘slave children’ to finally get compensation
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
Lifestyle
Zurich named ‘greenest’ city on the planet
Photo: Swiss
National
Brawl over seats forces Swiss to abort flight
Photo: Daniel Stockhammer
Culture
Research shows typical Swiss chalets ‘not actually Swiss’
Photo: AFP
National
Switzerland to get nationwide disaster alert system
Photo: S3
National
Swiss space firm boss left badly injured in violent attack
Photo: ETH Zurich
Education
ETH Zurich crowned best uni in continental Europe – again
File photo: Martin Abegglen
National
Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
National
Fatal crash: pilot told to fly below safe altitude
Photo: Peter Linke
Business & Money
Elderly Italian on benefits stashed €1m in Swiss bank
Photo: Stuart Richards
Society
Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
4,367
jobs available