Dispute over reclined seat causes United flight to make emergency landing

To recline, or not to recline? It's one of the most divisive issues in air travel, and one that invariably leads to peeved passengers and a lot of passive-aggressive sighing, not to mention "accidental" seat-kicking.
But rarely does it lead to an emergency landing. Until last Sunday, that is. 

Two passengers got into a heated seat-reclining war on a United Airlines flight from Newark, NJ to Denver, CO, and the pilot was forced to divert the plane to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport as a result of the altercation.

What exactly happened? Well, turns out that despite being asked not to do so by the flight attendant, one 48-year-old guy sitting in Economy Plus (where there's already an additional four inches of leg room) decided to use a Knee Defender, a gadget that clips onto the seat tray and prohibits the person sitting in front from reclining his or her seat. Mind you, the device is reportedly banned on most US airlines.

As you can imagine, that didn't sit well with the woman in front of him. Rather than harness her inner chi, however, she allegedly chucked a cup of water at him.

TSA spokesperson Ross Feinstein called the incident “a customer service issue”, and upon landing in Chicago, the offending fliers were removed from the plane. Neither party was arrested, according to a spokesman for the airport, but it's unknown whether the Federal Aviation Administration will fine the troublemakers.

The flight, you'll be happy to know, landed in Denver an hour and 38 minutes after its scheduled arrival.

Chloe Pantazi is an editorial assistant on Thrillist's travel team. Yes, that's a British accent. No, she doesn't watch Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter at @ChloePantazi.