Air rage incident forces Beijing-bound Swiss airliner to return to Zurich

A Swiss International Airlines plane is seen on the tarmac at a Swiss airport on March 20, 2012.

An air rage incident aboard a Swiss International Airlines flight — in which one man hit another man who reclined his seat — forced the pilot to turn the flight around.

The Beijing-bound Airbus A340, carrying 200 people, had been airborne around 4 hours before returning to Zurich after the fight between the two men spilled into the aisle, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The way back to Zurich was shorter [than carrying on] to Beijing," Swiss spokesman Mehdi Guenin told, the online news website, which also carried video of the altercation taken on board the plane.

The fight reportedly began when a 57-year-old Chinese man reacted to the passenger in front of him, aged 27 and also reportedly Chinese, who reclined his seat during the meal service.

Blick quoted a tourist guide on the flight, Valerie Sprenger, as saying:

"The older of the two felt disturbed during his dinner. When the younger did not respond to his protests, he hit him on the head with the flat of his hand. It was a real slap."

The men began brawling and rolled into the plane's aisle, according to the Blick report.

A crew member and a passenger restrained one of the men, binding his hands and placing him at the back of the plane, where he shouted for an hour. reported that both men were arrested by Zurich police and cited Zurich Cantonal Police spokesperson Werner Schaub as saying that alcohol had played a role in the brawl.

According to AFP, at least one man went before a local magistrate who fined him an undisclosed amount. cited Swiss spokesperson Myriam Ziesack as saying the company was considering suing the pair to pay for the extra jet fuel used and the cost of accommodating passengers in Zurich for a night.

According to a recent survey by UK TripAdvisor, cited by, aggressive seat recliners were identified as the biggest irritant for 29 percent of passengers.

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