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Air travel: Is reclining your seat a right?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Beefcake, Dec 9, 2010.

What is your viewpoint on the Reclining Seats issue?

Poll closed Dec 19, 2010.
  1. Rude Rude Rude! Reclining is an invasion of personal space

    46 vote(s)
  2. It's a Right! The button is there for a reason, and by golly I'm gonna use it

    53 vote(s)
  3. Pity you poor people! I'll be in First Class and above all this perfluffle

    6 vote(s)
  4. Peace Love Granola

    22 vote(s)
  1. Beefcake

    Beefcake Guest

    Having just returned from a cross-country trip, the increasingly torturous task of traveling via airplane is fresh on my mind. Hotbed for cold and flu viruses. Lots of unmentionable odors. Dirty seat trays and pockets. Bad in-flight movies. (For chrissakes, why do I always get Julia Roberts movies?)

    My biggest complaint is that unless I luck into an empty seat beside me, my back ends up wrecked due to [first, my mother's old mattresses, but also] 1) the lack of good lumbar support in the seat backs, and 2) the fact that the now-usually 100% full flights mean there's a person in the middle seat who owns both his armrests. If he's not conducive to allowing me to squeeze my arm in (i.e. the case during both of my 4-hour flights on a 757 last week), I end up sitting off kilter, my homeless arm too close to my side, or what-not ... and lose proper overall posture. Ergo, my back is shot.

    The subject of this CNN article - Air rage: Is reclining your seat a right? is, alas, getting more attention than my :drama: issue.

    I "do" look back to ascertain whether the person behind me will be disadvantaged if I recline, and then I recline only about 50% of the would-be allowable. However, I've got to admit that if I've got someone behind me aggressively pre-preventing me from reclining (knees pushing so much that I'm piked forwardare), I will recline just for the principle of it.

    As for others, does the person in front of you generally slam back their seats the moment the "ding" sounds. Sometimes happens to me. Voila!, I've got a head in my lap! 'Sir, is this considered foreplay, or are you expecting a temple massage or something?'

    To those who are :soapbox: "no recline! not here! not ever!", I say "shut up!". Plane seats are generally much too upright for comfort (or slumber). A good -- and I'd think relatively low-cost -- remedy would be for airlines to adjust the reclining capability of its seats to something less intrusive to passengers' back neighbors. As for new planes, I'm :respec: over the airline cited in this article which "pre-reclines" its seats.

    What are your thoughts about the to recline or not to recline issue ... as they are?
  2. UMBS Go Blue


    As a frequent flier with elite status on United and American, I have priority for exit row seats, and in United's case, "economy plus" seats with lots of legroom or, better yet, unlimited domestic upgrades. :p If I'm stuck in coach, then depending on plane type, you can always find me in 11D, 16D, 18D, 21D, or 14D. :p With so much legroom, I don't mind if the person in front of me reclines.

    Anti-recline clips that work only if your tray is down:

    I usually don't recline unless it's an overnight red-eye, in which case everyone in the plane is reclining and snoozing anyway. In any case, I'll look back and see if the person behind me is already reclined or dozing off before reclining. If I see that the person is working on a laptop, reading something, or working on something, then I usually won't recline, or at least I'll make eye contact and ask first.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
  3. KatieC

    KatieC So peaceful

    I too like to recline, but not generally the whole way down. And I will try to ensure I don't inconvenience anyone behind me. That also means I sit up while food is being served and eaten. Nothing worse than having your meal under your chin! Thank heavens I mostly take 2 hour flights, and the much rarer long ones I've been lucky and had a wall behind me.
  4. triple_toe

    triple_toe Well-Known Member

    I generally don't recline because it bugs me when the person in front of me does. I figure it's more inconvenient for the person behind me if I recline, than it is for me if I don't. But I also don't understand why the seats have to be so tiny and close together. I can't afford first class, but would be willing to pay a little more, say $50-$100, if airlines took out a couple of rows of seats to make more room. I understand that would be a huge hassle, and is never going to happen though...
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  5. BittyBug

    BittyBug Dispirited

    Beefcake - Next time check to see if JetBlue flies your route. They're a return to the days when flying was civilized. More legroom in all their seats (although they also have seats with "Even More Legroom"), their equipment is new and clean, and all their planes have leather seats so they don't get as disgusting as other airlines. And their fares are usually the least expensive, too.

    I used to fly United a lot, but their equipment is for the most part old and tired. Coach is like being in a sardine can, and their "first class" is little more than glorified coach these days.

    But to your question - yes, people have the right to recline if they so choose. I once almost got into a fist fight with an unruly (rude Euro :p) passenger on a trans-Atlantic flight because he was trying to prevent me from reclining. Had to call the flight attendant.
  6. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

    If I'm on a long flight and plan to sleep, I'll recline the seat a little, but not all the way unless I'm in the "extra leg room" seats and the person behind me has enough room to not be impacted. On shorter flights, I'm mostly reading and generally don't recline the seat.
  7. UMBS Go Blue


    Four things:
    * Disinfecting wipes / hand sanitizer
    * Strong deodorant for yourself so you can hopefully ignore other's odors
    * Bose headphones and your own entertainment / reading
    * Eye shades / ear plugs

    If it's a longer flight, especially an overnight flight where I plan to get some sleeping done, I'll make a grand production of disinfecting the tray, the seat, the seat belt, and the overhead vent nozzles/light buttons.

    Although there was one trip I took when I was in college when I was stuck in a 747 middle seat (in a row with a gazillion other seats to jump over) in cattle class from Chicago to Hong Kong, and back, and both ways it was a non-stop Julia Roberts movie marathon. Let's just say I've had enough of her nose and bony face. :yikes:
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010
  8. millyskate

    millyskate Well-Known Member

    I have arthritis and it kills me when people recline their seats. Airplanes are so small that even reclining slightly makes things grossly uncomfortable for the person behind.

    There's a major problem in the design of the planes. Obviously, the aim is to pack in the maximum amount of passengers, but I did once have a deep vein thrombosis scare after I was stuck on a flight with little leg space.
    Now I have to wear those ugly socks :shuffle:
  9. UMBS Go Blue


    United Economy Plus isn't just limited to elites like me. :encore:
  10. Beefcake

    Beefcake Guest

    Yep, a staple in the Beefcake beauty case :p
    no no no no no no! :mitchell: Please don't do this, folks. Strong deodorants and other perfumes and ointments are the very smells I cannot take at those close quarters. Makes me dizzy and gives me Abbott face. Perfumes and other beauty products are the reason I worry more when a woman sits beside me than even a too-wide guy.

    Oh, and also on my :mad: list -- smelly, gross, carry-on food from the airport! A woman last weekend actually very disgustingly ate baby back ribs in the seat behind me. I abhor the look, sound, smell, and thought of ribs for a meal. Worse, this on a redeye trip! Big Bertha began eating these ribs at 11:30 PM.

    Yep. I seem to catch up on my Money Magazines when I fly.
  11. UMBS Go Blue


    Well, OK, I meant "strong enough" or "sufficient enough" deodorant so that it doesn't overpower others, but at least you, um, notice yourself first, before noticing others. :grope: :shuffle:

    And what's wrong with snuggling up to someone who's hot and also smells nice? Mile High Win-Win Situation! :grope: :shuffle:
  12. Gazpacho

    Gazpacho Well-Known Member

    I do not recline unless there is no one behind me. I have stuck to that even when almost every other person has reclined. There is nothing I can't stand more than someone reclining into my space, so I do not do it to others.
  13. Veronika

    Veronika gold dust woman

    I don't recline all the way, just a bit...but I don't fly much either.
  14. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    Anyone who wears perfume, aftershave, cologne or really smelly shampoo/moisturizer when travelling by air should be pushed out of the plane.

    As for the seat reclining, I often do a little bit, occasionally all the way. I do understand that sometimes it impacts the person in back of me - but for most people, a slight recline isn't really going to affect them. It doesn't impact me when the person in front of me uses it unless they slam the seat all the way back.

    What I hate is when people don't manage their stuff that's supposed to be stowed under the seat and it ends up in my foot space. One time my neighbor's toddler ended up under my feet for half the flight :revenge:
  15. KatieC

    KatieC So peaceful

    My poor mum once almost got left on the plane because the person in front didn't sit up once landed. She was tiny and couldn't get the guys' attention.
  16. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    With people being packed like sardines in the economy section, especially on airlines runs by the U.S., I think all the airlines should either have all the seats permanently fixed in their upright positions or modify the seats to only allow a very limited range of reclinability.

    I'm average height, and it gets uncomfortable for me when the person in front recline his seat fully or almost fully. I can't imagine what that would feel like if I was a tall and/or heavy person.

    When I book a flight, I always pick the aisle seat and hope that the seat next to me will either be empty or will be occupied by a skinny b*tch :).
  17. oleada

    oleada Well-Known Member

    I'm reclining if I want to :mitchell:

    Flying is bad enough; I can't imagine having to sit up the entire time.
  18. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    How did the guy get away with having his seat moved back during landing?
  19. TreSk8sAZ

    TreSk8sAZ New Member

    I have no problem with people reclining if there is no one behind them or if they are considerate about the reality that you may not be able to recline very far. It really depends on the height of the person behind you, as well as if they are engaged in any activities that you would be infringing on (such as typing on a laptop).

    That being said, I am all legs. Nearly literally. I have a 36" inseam and I'm 5'10". It's very difficult as is for me to fit comfortably in a coach space. I also had to have half of the bone in my knee removed, which means I can't stay in one position for long peroids of time.

    I think it should be obvious for the person in front of me that they can't recline without physically touching me with their seat. If you recline, you darn well better not be actually touching me with the seat. Especially when it's very clear my knees are already in the back of your seat unintentionally. I've had idiots who just automatically slammed the seat back as soon as they could. I did get them to move when I started crying because they hit my knee as I hadn't had time to move out of their way.
  20. mashenka82

    mashenka82 New Member

    I think reclining is a completely right. I don't love it when the person in front of me does it, but, like the poll says, if the button is there, then it's there to be pressed. I actually had a 'confrontation' with a girl when my friend and I were traveling by bus in Spain, and I decided to recline my seat so I could sleep. Well the girl behind me started violently shoving at my seat and telling me that I had no right to do that, that I had hurt her legs, and even tried to reach for the button to make my seat go upright - clearly I had no interest in discussing the matter after this and told her that I had the right to recline my seat.

    This same friend also told me that her brother in law is really tall (over 6') and when he and her sister travel, the sister tends to tell people sitting in front of them, that they can't recline the seat because he needs his space. *shrug* We both agree that her BIL should purchase an economy upgrade or something (like United offers) because telling people they can't do something like that, when it's within their right, is just not fair!

    That said, at 5'4, it's not overly comfortable for me when someone reclines, but I recognize it's within their right and if I want to change it, I should upgrade. I think either the system changes where we get more leg room, or we deal with it (ie upgrade and recline, etc).
  21. millyskate

    millyskate Well-Known Member

    Long coach rides are a nightmare, and when you're riding for 40 hours or so, there are times when seats need to be reclined. I always try and get an alley seat, but once I was stuck against the window for a Ukraine-Paris trip beside a woman who was of Tarasovian proportions, and with a Tarasovian dress sense. She turned out to be good fun though, so the trip wasn't so bad after all.

    I strongly disagree that technical possibilities should not be considered "rights" or be used when they cause discomfort to others. I'm always baffled at the inconsiderate nature of people who just recline the seat all the way back without caring.

    The worst discomfort I had in a plane was when I was seated directly in front of a teenage girl listening to a comedy show on an mp3. She laughed hysterically in burst, very loudly, and right into my ear for about half an hour before I finally caved in and asked her to be more discrete.
  22. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    This is not intended as a defense of cheap*ss airlines who try to jam as many seats into a space as possible, regardless of whether the passengers are comfortable or not - but the way the backrests of some seats are shaped, often people HAVE to recline a little at least so that their back isn't destroyed by the end of a long flight.

    If those backrests were designed using the shape of an actual human back, I'd love to find out what back dimensions were the model. Because I don't think anyone on earth has a back built that way.
  23. Erica Lee

    Erica Lee New Member

    I think it's a right. I recline, especially long or overnight flights where I want to sleep a little. I don't mind when others in front of me recline, either. I expect it and don't think of it as rude at all.

    And to everyone with movie complaints... fly airlines with personal seat back tvs... makes flying enjoyable!
  24. Fridge_Break

    Fridge_Break #HotMessExpress

    Haven't read the thread (sorry), but I'll recline my seat if the person in front of me does and I am feeling a bit cramped. I can never sleep on airplanes, but I'm a tall guy so my personal space is quite crunched as it is.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010
  25. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

    I recline if I feel like it.

    Regarding seat/spacing, the reality is, they can either get as many people on one plane for a single flight, or triple the price at *least* and run more equipment (which is a bigger loss). Niche-market carriers like Jet Blue or (if they're still operating) Midwest Express either charge more, operate limited routes, or (as with Southwest) make a LOT of stops. They don't pack people in like that for fun or to be sadistic, they just have figured out through expensive trial and error about what most coach fliers (ie, generally non-business travelers) are willing to pay (for the most part, less than it costs to fly th seat) and how many they have to get on each plane to cover operating costs, or try to anyway. Like overbooking, which is not done to screw with people but to make sure they don't fly empty as an empty seat is worthless--99% of the time, it works as there are always no-shows (as demonstrated by my downright uncanny standby ability--I've done entire trips where I haven't been on the flights I was originally booked on--heck, once I and three other very lucky early arrivals flew on what was not even a scheduled passenger flight, just equipment and crew deadheading) except, more or less, on the day before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The fewer people they can get on one plane or the more equipment they have to run on the same route, the more money they lose on it.
  26. overedge

    overedge Janny uber

    I think everyone can figure that out.

    But p*ssing off your passengers so that they badmouth your airline to their friends or refuse to travel with you again is not going to increase usage either.
  27. UMBS Go Blue


    I think the message some of us are trying to get across is that:

    1) yes, it is within your right to recline
    2) but if you choose to do so, be considerate and see if the person behind you is working, eating, would be squashed, or would otherwise be inconvenienced by your recline. In any case, asking politely if you can recline is itself an act of courtesy and fore-warning, and is tough for the other person to say no to without looking like an a** in front of the rest of the plane.
  28. KatieC

    KatieC So peaceful

    The plane was going on to Calgary from Winnipeg. Mum was supposed to get off in Winnipeg, but had a disability and wasn't able to get up easily. In the middle seat and squashed from the seat in front, she couldn't get to her feet and eventually a fellow two rows back noticed her frustration and got the guy to move. I don't know why his seat was back at that point, but Mum didn't travel alone again. I think things are better now for disabled travellers.
  29. Allen

    Allen Glad to be back!

    I flew coach on the way to Brazil when I was doing a study abroad years ago. The guy in front of me practically had his seat in my lap. That was a miserable flight. I normally don't recline on a short flight that is all coach. I just think people should be courteous about it.
  30. nubka

    nubka Well-Known Member

    :drama: :drama: :drama: :drama:...