For women going places

Airplane Seat Etiquette: To Recline or Not?


When you're on an airplane - do you recline your seat or keep it in an upright position throughout the flight? What about when the person in front of you reclines his or her seat? Do you accept it as part of flying or get annoyed and voice your displeasure?

According to, on a recent flight from Los Angeles to Denver, a male passenger got so upset that the man in front of him reclined his seat, he shook the man's seat and grabbed his ear, knocking the man's glasses off his face. When the plane landed in Denver, the man was arrested for assault.

Now, most people probably wouldn't go that far to protest someone reclining a seat. Usually, you'd just roll your eyes and mumble derogatory statements under your breath. But it does raise the issue of right versus privilege. You paid for the seat, why shouldn't you be able to use it as you want? Or do you care about other passengers comfort in this day and age of cramped flights?

A true road warrior typically will ONLY recline her seat a little bit out of respect for the passenger behind her. Common courtesy goes a long way when flying and it's the obligation for both passengers to work on a solution.

I would love to hear your stories.

See you on the road,

Kathy Ameche

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Anonymous David Whelan said...

I don't find reclining to be too much of a problem and, for context, I often can't put the tray table down because it hits my knees before it's level. If people recline in front of me, they don't seem to be heading for the floor.

Those who do try to lean all the way back usually stop when they hit my knees. I don't try to be passive-aggressive about it; as soon as there's resistance, the recliner seems to assume that's as far as the seat will go back. I have seen a few people look over their shoulder to see how far back they've gone, but not with any attitude.

As you say, it's common courtesy; when it's shared space, you've got to give a little. You can always recline yourself and pay it backward! I suppose I'd say something if they thought they could get another 6" or so, or they engaged in some repetitive activity that might cause permanent bone damage!

12/10/10, 1:20 PM  
Anonymous April M. Williams said...

On one long flight from Honolulu to Chicago, a tall passenger in the seat in front of me fully reclined shortly after take-off. He remained in that position for the full 9 hour flight> His seat back rested just inched from my face. Worse, he had a cold and kept sneezing.

I was glad to get off that flight.

1/4/11, 12:40 PM  

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