CNN covers recent “air rage” incident revolving around seat recline

Check out this CNN article about a recent “air rage” incident on a November 22 American Airlines flight. Apparently a guy reclined his seat, and the guy behind him just wasn’t having it. Looks like I even got a (small) mention in the article concerning my recent seat recline etiquette post.

And I certainly stand by what I said. While I don’t recline on daytime flights in coach, reclining your seat is a right. That’s why the button is in your seat console, and not the console of the person behind you. Yes, I sympathize with tall people, which is why I don’t recline. But last time I checked, people that are tall don’t pay more for their tickets than people that are short. Almost all airlines let you buy exit row or bulkhead seats nowadays, making this even more of a no brainer, in my opinion.

But the key to all this (which is overlooked all too often) is courtesy. If the person behind you is tall and asks nicely, consider putting your seat up. If they demand you put your seat up and throw a temper tantrum, well, then it’s up to you.

Filed Under: Advice, Media
  1. Your seat is your seat. You paid for it. If there is too little space pay for BIZ or 1st! End of story!

  2. I totally agree with you, you’re button, you’re choice. As a merchant mariner, that 10am flight is often my redeye and I want to sleep. I usually take a window seat (tall people are usually on the aisle) and I make a point to sit more upright during the drink/meal service.

  3. Sure, your seat is your seat.

    But when that seat is in my lap don’t give me the evil eye when you get a knee in the back when I cross or uncross the legs on my 6’4″ frame. Also, don’t get bothered when you are jostled when I have to stand up to let someone else on the row out to use the facilities. Further get ready for a massage chair type experience if I need to get into my laptop bag under your seat.

    Your seat might be your seat, but it covers my storage area, fuctions as my magazine rack and is my table.

    Bottom line, treat others as you want to be treated. Recline your seat while I am on the laptop or with food and beverage? Expect a rough ride. Politely recline when tray table is up? Enjoy your nap.

  4. To follow up Leftseater, you certainly do have the right to recline your seat, but you don’t have the right to injure someone in the process.

    I’m 6’5″ and have had my share of bruises and cuts from people exercising their rights.

    I might add, my company’s travel policy does not cover the extra cost of an aisle or exit row seat.

  5. @ Left Seater

    Does the “treat others as you want to be treated” adage apply to you, too, or are you the only one allowed to get away with that passive-aggressive behavior? I’m sure you’d love to be kneed in the back or have your seat jostled or shaken “massage chair” style throughout your flight when you recline your seat rather than have someone ask you politely to not recline your seat so much as it is encroaching on his/her space.

  6. I’m tall. When I wind up in crowded coach I ask the person in front of me for a few seconds notice before putting his/her seat back so I can move my knees or close my laptop. Most are more than willing to be polite.

    Occasionally, I get an attitude (“Its my seat/right and I’ll do as I please”) and on even rarer occurrences, they’ll pop it up and back all flight, possibly just to annoy me.

    The first group I just chalk up to weird or tired. The second gets retaliation.

    As for my own seat, I always ask/warn and even then only recline a few degrees (enough so my head rests against the headrest rather than falling back.

  7. It’s not a matter of height — having the passenger in front recline into your lap is intrusive to everyone. It prevents me from using my tray table to work on my laptop, read a book, or enjoy a cup of coffee. Your seat also has an inflatable life vest underneath, an ashtray in the arm, and an oxygen mask overhead — yet no one is crowing over their right to use those. The fact that the recline button is there doesn’t mean you have to use it — and it certainly doesn’t give you the *right*, anymore than having that vest, mask or ashtray give you the right to use those at will.

    It’s just “plane” rude.

  8. a buddy of mine who’s over 2m tall decided to join me on a recent trip from NYC to Paris and Prague.

    While we were originally going to do Delta, we ended up buying tickets on OpenSkies (all business class planes) to avoid the leg drama for him… pretty reasonably priced and you get to use the Diplomat line at Orly for security šŸ™‚

  9. I do wonder if some “tall” people travelling on company business have looked into the option of making up the difference in a biz/first fare, if they really want it. If you ‘need’ the room as much as you say, then pay for it. Of course everyone wants more room, but like they say, supply and demand. If you don’t want to pay for more room, then you really can’t complain about a lack of it. You know what you;re signing up for when you travel economy. It’s like going to McDonald’s and then complaing because they don’t serve you fillet steak. Of course you could have just paid for the fillet in the first place, but then these days lots of people want something for nothing.

    Sure, there is room for manners, but kneeing someone’s seat just because they recline is childish. There’s a very simple solution- recline YOUR seat! If everyone reclines, everyone retains space. Of course, if there is a meal service, then please keep your seat upright while everyone eats.

    I’d also like to add, when your tray is cleared, please wait for the flight attendants to clear the tray of the person behind you before you recline. It can be really hard to pick up a tray when the seat in front is reclined all the way, and especially hard to do without spilling stuff if there is still coffee in the cups. It’s only a few seconds extra and makes for a nicer flight for everyone.

  10. @ chuck

    You’re more then welcome to use the ashtray, you just can’t smoke, and if you can get the masks down, you can use those too, as for the life vests, you didn’t pay for them, you only paid for the chance to have them in certain situations. they still belong to the airline unless there is an emergency. Think of it as buying insurance, you can’t have the 5 million dollars untill you’ve been killed by a bear.

    and to those tall people who think they deserve special treatment, I am Asian, and according to stereotype I can’t drive, so instead of paying for diving lessons or a taxi, maybe the government should build us a special highway with bumpers on the sides and extra wide lanes, using your tax dollars of course.

  11. @ Traytable

    The difference between J and Y can be thousands on international fares. Not gonna happen. Especially if it’s several flights a year. And reclining your seat does nothing to increase legroom.

    Trust me – I’m 6’10” and know.

    The better solution? Swap seats.

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