I don’t know what’s more divisive — the topic of seat recline, or the 2020 presidential election (or heck, maybe just the 2020 democratic primary?!).
There’s now yet another viral seat recline video. I wasn’t going to write about it, but my gosh, so much has come from this.
My take on the seat recline debate
I’ve written extensively about my take on whether reclining your seat is a right or privilege. In my opinion it’s a right, but you should do the right thing and be courteous — you should recline slowly, make sure it doesn’t cause horrible discomfort to the person behind you, and if they beg you not to recline, maybe don’t do it.
If the situation escalates, don’t take it into your own hands, and instead get a flight attendant involved. More than anything else, just do your part to avoid any inflight confrontations, because they’re not worth it.
The viral American Airlines seat recline video
A Twitter user named Wendi shared a video of the man seated behind her rather violently punching her seat several times. This took place on a January 31 American Eagle flight from New Orleans to Charlotte, but only recently came out after Wendi didn’t get a satisfactory response from the airline.
According to Wendi, the flight attendant reprimanded her for taking a video, and gave the guy behind her free rum.
As the passenger explained the situation on Twitter:
I was returning from a teachers’ convention. The man asked me, with an attitude, to put my seat up because he was eating. I did. I then reclined it again when he was finished. At that point, he started hammering away at me. That’s when I started videoing and tried to call the FA.
When the FA came. She rolled her eyes at me and said, “What?” She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum! She told me I had to delete the video! It’s against the law to video on a plane. I asked her name & She gave me a Passenger Disturbance Notice!
TMZ reports that Wendy was issued a disturbance report, which in part read as follows:
“Your behavior may be in violation of federal law. You should immediately cease if you wish to avoid prosecution and your removal from this aircraft at the next point of arrival. This is a formal warning.”
The reason? Because of the above video. The flight attendant demanded she delete it, but she initially refused. Eventually she did delete it, but then recovered the video in the “recently deleted” folder.
The passenger wants the man to be identified so she can press charges against him for assault, and she wants the flight attendant fired.
She’s also worried that she has medical problems resulting from the situation. Wendi says she has one cervical disk left that isn’t fused, and it’s the one that allows her some mobility. She is worried that this kind of injury could do it in.
Who was in the wrong here?
Who is at fault here — the man hitting the seat, the flight attendant, or the woman recording the situation? There’s one obvious answer, though I did want to share a few thoughts about the other parties involved.
The guy is a complete jerk, plain and simple
This guy is of course in the wrong. What a complete jerk to hit this woman’s seat repeatedly. What is wrong with people that anyone could think this is okay?
According to Wendi, the worst of the situation wasn’t even captured on camera. We don’t even need the other side of the story, because there is no circumstance whatsoever under which this is acceptable behavior.
What about the flight attendant?
As far as the flight attendant goes, we of course only have one side of the story. Assuming the flight attendant brushed this off, offered the guy a free drink, and ignored this woman’s situation, the flight attendant is in the wrong as well.
That being said, the woman was violating American Airlines policy by videoing another passenger without their consent, so the flight attendant wasn’t wrong for asking her to delete the video. It seems like the flight attendant may not have correctly been prioritizing the “wrongs” in this situation, given that this woman was being assaulted.
I’d say an onboard assault is more serious than violating American’s policy on taking videos.
What about the woman recording this?
The assault that Wendi suffered wasn’t at all her fault.
That being said, we all have a responsibility to look after our own health and wellbeing, and it would suck if Wendi suffered long term health implications as a result of this.
I do think there are some things Wendi could have potentially done better to diffuse the situation, rather than exacerbate it. This is for her own health and safety, rather than because she did anything wrong:
- When she was being assaulted she should have gotten up and confronted the flight attendant and calmly explained the situation, rather than videoing the situation and then calling over the flight attendant
- Personally I think she should have put her seat up when this assault was happening long enough to get another flight attendant involved or figure out another solution
- While I understand she may have wanted to document the situation, filming someone who is unhinged is generally only going to make the situation worse, rather than better
- All of the above is especially true since it seems like Wendi is at risk of suffering long term health impacts because of this
Again, I don’t at all think this is her fault. But I do think there are some things that could be learned here to avoid a similar situation should you find yourself seated in front of a complete nut.
To me this is such a ridiculous situation. The guy deserves all the blame for being a jerk and assaulting the other passenger. It also sounds like the flight attendant didn’t do a very good job with handling what was a clear case of assault.
As far as Wendi goes, while she didn’t cause this at all, I also feel like she could have done more to diffuse the situation, rather than exacerbate it, given the kind of person she was dealing with, and given that this is apparently putting her long-term health at risk.
What do you make of this situation?