Elbow-room escalation: Two passengers removed from flight after altercation over armrest

Two airline passengers apparently unable to agree on the rules of engagement over elbow room allegedly got into a physical altercation right before takeoff that caused a San Francisco-to-Las Vegas flight to return to the gate where cops were waiting.

Surprisingly enough, no cell phone video of this particular encounter on United Airlines has emerged as yet.

But Google exec Jack Krawcyzk tweeted out a picture of what appears to be a police officer and a flight attendant standing in the aisle, along with a caption that reads “On my first flight in 15 months, of course we were rerouted back to the gate because two passengers got into a physical altercation over elbow placement upon arm rests.”

Cops reportedly escorted the adversaries off the plane. Neither of them suffered any injuries in the affray, and both declined to “pursue further police action,” SFGate reported.

Authorities told them to book other flights, however, as they were not permitted to re-plane.

Although anti-social, combative behavior aboard aircraft seems to be on the rise, as it were, usually — but not always — involving mask policies rather  than wrestling over arm rests. A number of brawls or outbursts for other reasons have also broken in terminal areas.

With long lines at TSA screening queues, plus being packed in on planes like sardines, along with random flight delays, traveling by commercial air routinely pre-COVID was stressful or frustrating enough.

Since the easing of pandemic restrictions and the subsequent increase in pent-up passenger traffic, perhaps on some level, the metaphorical Kraken has been released.

In a press release issued in late May, the Federal Aviation Administration said that it is implementing a “zero-tolerance policy for unruly and dangerous behavior by passengers.” Violators could face civil penalties as well as criminal charges.

In any event, Krawcyzk’s tweet generated a significant reaction on Twitter, including those with etiquette tips. Here is a sampling (warning for language):

Krawcyzk also sent out this follow-up tweet:

Robert Jonathan

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