Airline Drama – To Recline or Not to Recline?

According to the NY Times article, there was a recent disturbance on a flight from Newark to Denver where a woman was unable to recline her seat. Another flier who sat directly behind her had installed the Knee Defender, a $21.95 device on her seat preventing her from reclining. After a heated argument and the inability for her to recline, she threw water on this individual. Both were escorted off the plane in Chicago.

This NY Times article, written by Josh Barro, argues in favor of reclining. His premise, by purchasing a flight ticket, you are not only paying for your seat, you’re paying for a certain amount of space and part of that space is having the ability to recline your seat, regardless of the size or height of the person who sits behind you. The author also suggests, in lieu of any potential confrontation about this matter, a key option is to explain the situation to the flight attendant and possibly get one of those parties to move. Of course, with many flights running at capacity of near capacity, having someone move is not always an option.

The author also suggests that women are less likely to recline which should indicate men are more likely to do so. Ironically, this situation involved a woman wanting to recline. For what it’s worth, my last two flights involved two women reclining their seat in front of me without asking if that would be OK.

From my perspective, I will never recline my seat if someone is sitting behind me. That’s just me – perhaps my empathy kicks in and as my close friends know, when this occurs to me, I’m not smiling so it’s not something I’d subject others too.

In today’s world, as anyone would have noticed if they’ve flown recently, the incredible thing about coach is you barely have enough legroom. It’s just manageable and with those travelers who do recline their seats when they can, those impacted can be quite inconvenienced. Forget about trying to do any work on a computer or effectively manage a newspaper. Perhaps carry on magazines which may be all you can do.

So who’s at fault? Both parties were escorted off the airplane for disorderly conduct. I thought that was a bit over the top although that’s getting off topic. Where should the focus lie? On the airlines? Years ago, reclining your seat was less of an issue when you had more legroom. To maximize profits, airlines are continuing to search for every manageable way to make money on each flight – sometimes these methods may border on the unmanageable. With less legroom than ever, many airlines have never adjusted or changed their seat reclining policy.

Instead of turning your anger towards the airlines, where I believe the blame should lie, customers may eventually argue with one another about this controversial habit. I know, I know, the airlines will be glad to sit on the sidelines and let both sides of this issue hack it out through social media. Haven’t the airlines created this pressure cooker? If those Knee Defenders are becoming more common, even though they are forbidden on most, if not all airlines, should not the presences of these devices indicate to the airlines the need to be more proactive in mitigating future issues? Is not the solution to create more legroom for all passengers to mitigate the inconvenience? Or, if no legroom is available, prevent the seats from reclining?

Will something serious have to occur before these airlines will make significant space improvements while flying?

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Airline Drama – To Recline or Not to Recline? According to the NY Times article, there was a recent disturbance on a...