Scott McCartney blogs about the incident Sunday night onboard United’s DC- Accra flight where the aircraft turned around after two passengers got into a fight over a reclined seat.
He notes “[w]ith seats squeezed together closely in coach cabins, reclining seats have become a major annoyance for many passengers” and flags etiquette issues.
I think there’s a more important point here. McCartney notes,
Two F-16s from Andrews Air Force Base were scrambled to shadow the flight until it landed safely.
Now, there is only one thing that the F-16s could have done in this situation. Either they do nothing, or they shoot down the plane. I’ve seen quite a bit of coverage over this incident, most of the coerage notes that fighter jets were scrambled to respond. But nobody points out that those fighter jets could only have been used to kill everybody onboard.
Doesn’t it bother anyone that our government’s first reaction, in this case to a slap after a reclined seat, is to prepare to kill everyone?
I realize that it’s possible to hypothesize a scenario where an airplane is going to again be used as a missle, and that the decision then is between killing everyone on board or on the ground. And that in fact airplanes were once used as missles ten years ago.
My point is that no one blinks that our immediate reaction now, in nearly every instance, is to put our finger on that trigger. What troubles me in this case in mostly that the news coverage treats that nonchalantly, rather than as a really big deal.