A video of passengers fighting on a flight over a reclining seat went viral on Wednesday, prompting an official apology from the airline the following day.
In the video, a male passenger can be seen verbally arguing with an increasing number of men. Although a female crew member attempts to calm the agitated group, she backs down once the men become physically aggressive. Under the gaze of the passengers, the lone man tries to defend himself against the wave of attacks from the group of men surrounding him.
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The Bangkok-Kolkata flight took place on Tuesday, with the clip of the incident uploaded by Saurabh Sinha Wednesday. As of this writing, the video has over 3 million views and 6,200 likes.
Shortly after the video went viral, Thai Smile Airways issued an apology via its Indian Twitter account, @THAISmileIndia.
India’s Civil Aviation Safety Bureau and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation have both requested details from Smile Airways regarding the altercation, but the nature of the foreign airline and state of registry , Thailand, raised a jurisdictional issue.
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The altercation happened after the only male passenger in seat 37C refused to straighten his seat in accordance with crew safety instructions when the plane was preparing for takeoff, reports India time. Although crew members warned that the man’s actions would be reported to the pilot, the passenger allegedly justified his refusal with allegations of back pain and encouraged the flight attendants by retorting: “OK, say [the pilot]. I’m not scared.” Passengers in seats 38A, B and C confronted the man for his behavior, which led to the physical fight.
As a result, the flight was delayed but “continued as usual” after the passengers involved calmed down, the airline reports. However, the passengers remained under surveillance and passenger 37C was denied alcohol.
Passengers on 37A and B were given the opportunity to change seats, but they refused. According to the airline, no one was injured.