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Delta flight diverted over reclining seat dispute

Delta flight diverted over reclining seat dispute

A Delta Air Lines jet takes off from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va., Monday, July 28, 2014. Photo: Associated Press/Manuel Balce Ceneta

By Daniel Wallis

(Reuters) – An argument over leg room and reclining seats forced a Florida-bound flight from New York to divert to a different airport late on Monday, the third such incident of a midair disruption caused by passengers in about a week.

Delta Air Lines said that “out of an abundance of caution” the captain of Flight 2370 from New York La Guardia to West Palm Beach chose to land instead at the closest airport, Jacksonville, where local law enforcement removed one passenger.

It did not elaborate on the “disruption,” but a witness told Jacksonville TV station WJXT TV-4 that an argument broke out during the flight between one woman who wanted to recline her seat and another in the row behind who wanted to sleep while resting on her tray table.

The witness said one of the women became loud and abusive when a flight attendant was called.

The aircraft later flew on to West Palm Beach where it landed shortly after 11 p.m., a couple of hours late. Delta representatives did not immediately return a call for comment.

The latest incident came just five days after an American Airlines flight to Paris from Miami was diverted to Boston following an argument between passengers over a reclining seat.

In that case, a 60-year-old Frenchman was subdued by plainclothes U.S. air marshals and charged in federal court with interfering with flight crew members, prosecutors said.

Just days before that, a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Denver on Aug. 24 had to be diverted to Chicago due to an argument between passengers over a device that stops the seat in front from reclining.

The airline said one of those involved was using a Knee Defender, a small wedge-like gadget that clips to a tray table and forces the seat in front to stay upright. Many carriers, including United, ban the use of the device.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis in Denver; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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