x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Pardon me, I have knees

Two F16 fighter jets had to be dispatched into Washington DC airspace after an incident on a United Airlines flight bound for Ghana because of a punch-up between two passengers.

Let it be a lesson to all travellers: be more considerate to fellow wayfarers - or else.

On Sunday night, two F16 fighter jets had to be dispatched into Washington DC airspace after an incident on a United Airlines flight bound for Ghana. No, not a terror threat; it was a punch-up between two passengers.

The fight was broken up by other passengers and cabin crew, but by then the flight was already being escorted by the fighter jets back to Dulles International Airport. Neither offender was arrested, to the major annoyance of the other passengers we presume.

They wouldn't be the only ones annoyed. The fisticuffs were provoked when one passenger reclined his seat too far back and the occupant of the seat to the rear reached over and slapped him on the head. Fireworks ensued.

We'll be the first to admit that slapping someone at the beginning of a transcontinental flight is not the best idea. Indeed, it seems incomprehensible that no charges have been filed - or at least a bill delivered for all of that jet fuel. But, honestly, haven't you ever been tempted to offer a somewhat gentler rebuke when someone reclines his seat across your lap?

Airplane etiquette, driving safety, smokers' air pollution, loud mobile phone users ... Have we really reached a point where F16s are needed to police basic civility?