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Two F-16′s Escort United Airlines Flight After 2 Passengers Fight Over Reclining Chair

A United Airlines flight was forced into a dramatic emergency landing that cost the taxpayer thousands after two passengers started a fistfight over a reclined seat, it has emerged.

Fighter jets were scrambled with two F-16s escorting Flight 990 as it dumped fuel to lessen its weight in order to land on Sunday night.

The Boeing 767, from Washington’s Dulles Airport bound for Accra in Ghana, had 144 people on board when the fight broke out, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said.

Government officials confirmed that fighter jets were scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

United spokesman Mike Trevino said Tuesday that the Boeing 767 dumped fuel as a safety precaution to lighten its weight on landing.

The Washington Post, which first reported the incident, reported that the fight began not long after takeoff when a passenger lowered his seat and a passenger behind him objected.

The overnight flight departed at 10.44pm, the newspaper reported.

Not long after that one passenger lowered his seat – presumably intending to attempt to doze off for the 5,000-mile flight.

But it seems he may have reclined a bit too far, inciting the fury of the passenger behind him, who, it appears, was unwilling to have the first passenger’s head in his lap for nearly 11 hours.

The second passenger smacked the first passenger, and a fistfight quickly ensued, sources told the Post.

A flight attendant and another passenger intervened, and the pilot – who has full authority over a flight once it is in the air – decided to turn the plane around.

A United spokesman told the Washington Post that the pilot made that decision rather than carry on as he was unsure of the scope of the problem.

His overcaution seems to have stemmed from September 11, and the fears pilots have faced since.

Air Force jets have been on standby ever since the attacks in 2001 to escort passenger jets when there is a fear of a potential terrorist threat.

The pilot’s fears may have been compounded by the fact that he was still relatively near Washington, D.C. airspace – and all the potential targets within that area, such as the White House and the Pentagon.

At any rate, he took no chances, informing the tower that he was returning to the airport.

As the plane turned back, the tower ordered him to cruise for 25 minutes, escorted by the F-16s, to burn off fuel.

An F-16 is believed to cost roughly $50,000 per hour to scramble. With two tailing the Boeing 767 for at least half an hour, the price tag would have been near that.

The Heat Reporter
The Heat Reporter
Known in entertainment circles as "LA Dre", the Editor of The Heat Magazine works tirelessly to bring you the latest & greatest in entertainment news. He spent years in the industry & now brings some of that insider knowledge to his readers.


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