CHICAGO — Two United Airlines passengers feuding about reclining a seat forced the airline to make an unscheduled landing at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Sunday, officials said. The skirmish aboard United Flight 1462, which was headed from Newark to Denver, began when a man tried to use a gadget called the Knee Defender that blocked the seat in front of him from fully reclining, according to United Airlines.
A flight attendant informed the man, 47, that United does not allow such gadgets like this one, which is advertised online for $21.95. The man, who had also been using a laptop, refused to comply, officials said.
An argument ensued and the woman, 48, who had tried to recline her seat stood up and threw a cup of water at the man, the airline confirmed.
Both passengers were sitting in United’s Economy Plus section, the part of the plane that has 4 more inches of legroom than the rest of coach.
Authorities with the Chicago police and Transportation Security Administration confirmed that, at about 3 p.m., they met with the unruly passengers after the plane landed at O’Hare.
“Both passengers were very disruptive and failed to follow flight crew instructions,” said Chicago police Officer Ron Gaines, who confirmed that the skirmish began over a reclining seat.
United does not allow customers to use devices “that prevent seats from reclining,” an airline spokeswoman confirmed.
No arrests were made.
“Typically in these situations, they turn out to be customer service (related) and there isn’t a crime committed,” said Michael McCarthy, a TSA spokesman based in Boston.
“It really isn’t terribly common.”
The Boeing 737 continued on its flight to Denver, officials said.