Last week, an American Airlines passenger he tweeted the video of a man who repeatedly hit the back of his reclining seat. The video went viral and once again sparked debate over whether or not to recline your seat while in the air.
While we can all (hopefully) agree that punching the back of the seat of the person sitting in front of you is never appropriate, if it is right to recline it is one of those things that many people have an opinion on, often a strong one.
During an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, Delta’s CEO investigated the matter. His opinion:
“I think customers have the right to recline. We have tested the reduced recline, but I think the right thing to do is if you’re going to recline in someone, asking yourself if it’s okay first. I never say anything on my own, though … If anyone knows that there is a tall person behind them, and they want to recline their place, I think the polite thing to do is make sure it’s OK. I never slow down, because I don’t think that since I am the CEO of the airline, I should recline my seat. And I never say anything if someone settles down in me. “
It’s honestly quite reasonable advice, both for when you’re on a plane and for life in general: if you’re going to do something that has an impact on someone else, consider how it will impact them (and maybe ask them first) before to do it .
At a basic level, it means looking behind you to get an idea of what you are reclining in and perhaps reconsider that decision if you notice that you are going to heavily disturb that person’s comfort by leaning back. For example, if the person behind you is 7 feet tall or has a baby on her lap and obviously has problems in that intermediate seat already, maybe don’t do the worst situation.
At the very least, it’s nice at least to let the person behind you know you’re about to recline (I say like someone who almost lost a laptop screen in the process), and if you’re a good person, ask them if it’s okay. You have to do it, obviously not, but we are all riding that canned sardine together, so it doesn’t hurt to give someone the same consideration you would like to receive if the situation were reversed.
Personally, I am from the field that reclining is almost never appropriate. The exceptionally comfortable amount of which the recliner gets a one-inch return isn’t worth the limited amount of real estate that the person behind them loses in the process.
Yes, I see, you paid for a seat with the ability to lean back, but the person behind you probably paid the same for the right to have enough space to work on your laptop behind you. For me, that recline is always a no-go uunless it is a flight with red eyes and everyone is asleep, or the person in front of me reclines so that I can no longer adapt to my laptop. When this happens, Before reclining, I always evaluate the situation and sometimes I simply explain to the person in front of me that I am working and ask if he would not mind not reclining, or at least returning only halfway. It is a convo that I have had at least a dozen times and it has never been hostile.
It is worth noting that Delta has actually reduced the amount that can be reclined on some of its planes, so even a full recline is a little less destructive for the person behind the recliner.
In the case of this week’s viral video, it seems that the person behind this woman was on the back of the plane and didn’t have a chance to recline at all. Punching the back of someone’s seat was not the right answer, but I can understand why it might be irritated.
The fact is that nobody on the plane, not even First Class people, really has a comfortable amount of personal space. Checking in doesn’t hurt even before taking over from someone else if technically have the right to.