Reclining Airline Seats — Everyone Loses

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I just read a really entertaining article on Slate titled “The Recline and Fall of Western Civilization” in which the author, Dan Kois, talks about the no-win situation with reclining airplane seats. Reclining angers the person in back of you, asking them not to recline ticks them off.

My friend sent me the article with the caveat “I know you don’t often flight coach, but you still might find it amusing.” I do actually  fly coach more than half the time. My upgrades as a United 1K and US Airways Platinum don’t come through nearly enough, and now that I’ve switched to US Airways as my main carrier, I don’t even have the extra economy plus. So reclining seats are a terror I’m very familiar with.

So much so that I’ve created classifications for various seat etiquette offenses:

  • The early-recliner — wheels are barely up and the person immediately reclines their chair, which means should any issues happen during take off, their seat is now only 12 inches away should I face plant from turbulence.
  • The quick draw recliner — have you ever been typing away on your laptop only to yank it hurriedly before it gets pinned or crushed when the person in front slams their chair back, going from upright to fully reclined in .5 secs?
  • The forgetful recliner — they thought they were going to nap during the flight, but give up early on. They’ll then proceed to lean forward to work, eat, whatever, forgetting their chair is still tilted.

And these issues are not limited to coach, when flying in US Airways first, I frequently have the same problems. You’d think you could cross your legs without bumping the person in front of you, but not always.

What’s the worst situations you’ve experienced?


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