Onboard Brawl: Man Attacks Seatmate Over Air Vent Dispute

Two passengers on board a Zipair flight got into a fight over the air vents above their seats. The man in the window seat wanted to turn it on, while the passenger at the aisle wanted it off. He got mad, slapped away the hand on the vent and eventually punched the window seat passenger. There was nobody seated in the middle.

Eventually a flight attendant on the low cost carrier’s Boeing 787 comes to them and suggests that they be separated (or removed).

The fight appeared to be over the vent above the middle seat which adds complications. I’m shocked the punch and aisle brawl didn’t involve officers immediately, since it would seem there’s a risk things would continue during the flight and lead to a diversion. But the plane must not have had many passengers, and the two could be separated.

  • The aisle seat passenger objecting to the air vent is clearly the problem here. He didn’t handle matters politely – he’s the one that got physical.

  • As a general matter, you control the air vent over your own seat. The fight though seems to have been about the air vent above the vacant seat between them. That’s a matter for negotiation.

  • But air vents can usually be moved, so that the airflow is directed at one passenger and not the other. That should have been the approach here.

  • And if an agreement can’t be reached, a flight attendant should make the final decision on how to handle matters – not a street brawl.

I’m just grateful on an Asian carrier when the air nozzle is controllable, to be honest, since they tend to keep cabins too warm for my liking.

(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I prefer to have the air vent fully open and blowing on me in most cases, to keep me from overheating. The aisle seat person is out of line in this case.

  2. Overall, whether the subject is an air vent, seat position, or something else, all these stories show is the lessening of civility, courtesy, maturity, and good education among and between many passengers these days. I’m a Senior, and this sort of thing NEVER used to happen on ANY flight.

  3. @Alert is correct. They should have just opened up the window — after all, it was a Boeing jet, so that should have been easy. .

  4. @Richard … the airlines are greedy for any additional passengers , and uncouthness is common . Especially among those who bring their dogs and carry-on suitcases .

  5. @Alert not only is trying to be clever but did it ungrammatically.

    “open up the window .” Can Alert please explain how one “opens down the window?” Just say “open the window” – what is “up” doing in that comment?

  6. I’ll never forget a man on the other side of the first class Int cabin on a wide body jet ordering me to shut off my air vent many years ago as it was bothering him.
    I shut it off rather than deal with his drama.
    So many angry controlling people flying these days

  7. I reflect what Richard wrote. Totally different America from what I grew up in. These kinda people don’t realize how really frikkin ugly things can get. If someone just reached across me without any courtesy….

  8. “open up the window .” Can Alert please explain how one “opens down the window?” Just say “open the window” – what is “up” doing in that comment?


    Well, if you have a slider window (as is common in western states), maybe you open “over” the window.

Comments are closed.