Mainland passengers come to blows on flight to Shanghai

Two groups of mainland passengers brawled on an international flight from Saipan to Shanghai last Friday in the second such incident in a week.

Friday's brawl reportedly erupted when two Chinese men fought for a seat on Sichuan Airlines flight 3U8648, which left Saipan at 6.10am.

A one-minute video clip shot by another passenger, which has been widely circulated on the internet, showed the two men wrestling in the cabin as passengers seated nearby tried to move away from the violence.

Several passengers, believed to be members of the two men's families, then joined in the brawl. Flight attendants repeatedly asked the two groups to stop fighting and return to their seats.

The Tianning Huangchao travel agency in Chengdu, which chartered the flight, confirmed the brawl yesterday. The agency said the Airbus A330 plane had not returned to Saipan because it was too "time-consuming". Sichuan Airlines declined to comment.

The yesterday quoted the passenger who shot the video as saying that the two men had started fighting to get an empty seat at the back of the cabin. But another passenger claimed that one of the men was upset that the other, sitting in front of him, had reclined his seat during a meal.

A Tianning Huangchao staff member told the that the two men who had triggered the brawl were taken away by police after the plane landed in Shanghai at around 8.40am on Friday, and they could face criminal charges.

"Some Chinese passengers can suddenly lose their temper, but Sichuan Airlines normally won't return to the original airport under such circumstances," he said.

This was the second mid-air brawl involving Chinese passengers in six days. On September 2, a Swiss Air flight with 200 passengers bound for Beijing was forced to return to Zurich after a fight broke out between a 57-year-old man and a 27-year-old man.

The older man, reportedly tipsy, was angry that the younger man, sitting in front of him, had reclined his seat during a meal.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Dispute over plane seat leads to mid-air brawl