Plane Diverted After Fight Breaks Out Over Reclining Seat

This morning I awoke to the news that debate over reclining airline seats has reached a new high (or low) as it were. View From The Wing and YULtide on Milepoint both posted about the United flight that was diverted yesterday when two passengers got into an animated dispute on a flight from Newark to Denver.

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I don’t think I realized products like the Knee Defender existed, and while I’m sympathetic (as someone who has had their laptop nearly broken by over enthusiastic recliners) I don’t really support their use.

My approach until I got a smaller computer was to ask the person in front of me before take off if they could give me a warning or recline slowly so I can make sure I get my laptop out of the way in time. I’ve never had anyone take that badly and on the margin it’s probably resulted in fewer “full reclines.” Yes it was awkward, but preferable to the alternatives.

What is your personal philosophy when it comes to reclining seats?


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  1. Seats are made to recline, and its to be expected that the person in front of you will want to recline at some point. I personally check what’s going on behind me, through the seat gap and recline accordingly (slowly or just a bit if it looks cramped for space) – and sometimes will give warning that im going to recline.

    If I recline and the person behind has a reasonable request not to or to give warning, then i will oblige.

  2. Seats shouldn’t recline. The seat pitch has gotten so small that any recline in most coach cabins hits my knees and invades my personal space. I’ve had to sit sideways on flights due to recline. The airline industry needs to fix this. Not only is it a comfort issue but a safety issue as well. It would impossipible to evacuate effectively in many cases where seats are reclined.

  3. I work and read with the tray table down. If the person in front of me reclines, I end up with bruised ribs. Because the seat pitch has become so narrow, reclining one’s seat is, in my opinion, nothing more or less than a hostile act. If someone reclines into me, I find that I have become too warm and blast the air conditioning nozzle right onto the face of the reclining person. If reclining is their right and privilege, cranking up the air will be mine.

  4. I’m a conscientious traveler. I usually look behind me and if there’s someone sitting there I decline the recline even though I’d rather recline.

  5. I always manage to drop a pen on the floor right before someone decides to recline and get hit right in the face!

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