A Southwest Airlines plane, which was taxiing on the runway, was forced to return back to the gate of Los Angeles International airport on 18 October after a fight broke between two passengers, in which a man is said to have choked a woman for reclining her seat. The aircraft was carrying 137 passengers on board at the time of the incident.
When the pilot of the aircraft contacted the control tower to inform it about the physical altercation between two passengers, he was ordered to bring the plane back to the gate of Los Angeles International airport. According to airport police officer Rob Pedregon, the San Francisco-bound Flight 2010 left the gate at about 10.25pm on 18 October.
According to eyewitnesses, who were interviewed by NBC, a female passenger attempted to recline her seat back just before take-off, which led to an altercation with a man, who was seated directly behind her, who allegedly began choking the woman. Witnesses told CNN that after the plane returned to the gate, police and the FBI boarded the aircraft and removed the suspected attacker.
The FBI later confirmed that they had taken in alleged choker for questioning, but said no arrests have been made. The rest of the 136 passengers of the San Francisco-bound flight were transferred to another plane, which arrived in San Francisco five hours later than scheduled.
"Our initial information is that flight attendants swiftly coordinated with pilots on the flight deck to get the aircraft on the ground safely and quickly after a physical altercation by one passenger against another," Southwest spokeswoman Melissa Ford was quoted as saying by The Mirror.
Southwest later released a statement confirming that Flight 2010 had returned to Los Angeles airport because of a "rapidly escalating situation".