SINGAPORE: A fight broke out on a Thai Smile Airways flight on Tuesday (Dec 27) after a passenger reclined his seat and refused to follow cabin crew's safety instructions.
The incident took place on Thai Smile flight WE313, which was scheduled to leave Bangkok at 11.30pm and arrive in Kolkata at 12.40am, the airline said in a statement.
The flight was taxiing at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport when the passenger in seat 37C reclined his seat, The Times of India reported.
When cabin crew asked him to put his seat upright, the passenger said he had a backache, according to a report of the incident Thai Smile Airways submitted to India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
The cabin crew explained that the seat had to be upright so it would not hinder evacuation or prevent other passengers seated behind from taking the brace position in an emergency.
According to The Times of India, the passenger replied: "I fly often, I know what to do."
When told that he would be reported to the pilot if he did not follow safety rules, the passenger said: "Okay, tell him. I am not scared."
Mr Alok Kumar, a passenger seated behind the man in 37C, said in an interview with India's NDTV that the man was "rude to the next level".
Mr Kumar said cabin crew were "pleading" with the man to put his seat upright, and other passengers were also shouting at him to follow safety instructions.
A fight ensued when other passengers who objected to his behaviour came to talk to the passenger in 37C, according to the report.
A video of the incident was posted on Twitter by The Times of India senior editor Saurabh Sinha.
It shows two men - one in a dark dress shirt and another in a grey polo shirt - talking in raised voices with a cabin crew member between them.
Later, four other male passengers join the group. The man in grey can then be seen hitting and slapping the head of the man in the dark dress shirt several times.
The Times of India reported that the crew and other passengers tried to stop the fight. The flight captain was informed, and take-off was delayed.
The passengers involved in the fight were not removed from the aircraft. They returned to their seats and the flight eventually took off.
During the flight, cabin crew kept a watch on the passengers involved in the fight, while the passenger in 37C was not served alcohol, according to The Times of India.
No more fighting was reported and the flight proceeded as usual.
India's Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya M Scindia said that a police complaint has been made against the passengers involved.
"Such behaviour is unacceptable," he posted on Twitter.
Thai Smile Airways has said it "feels sorry" for the incident.
"We reaffirm that the incident has been taken care of as we followed the flight safety procedures in accordance with international standards," the airline posted on Twitter.
"Our flight crews have already provided support to the persons affected by an incident."
In a statement CNA received on Friday, the airline said that the flight's crew made an "urgent effort" to end the situation.
"THAI Smile would like to formally inform you that all of our crews and pilots strictly follow safety procedures according to the aviation standards."