This issue is the biggest fear of anyone boarding a flight. It is the bane of travel. Purely, because you never know who you will be sitting next to, in front of or behind. For Aussies on the East Coast, where international travel is a guaranteed minimum of 3 hours (to New Zealand) to 13 hours (to Los Angeles), seating allocation means more than a working television to us. (But tv issues really matter too on a flight that long!) Legroom is golden in these instances.
The debate on seat reclining etiquette still currently stands. With an increase in plane travel across the world, it is a debate that really has no clear cut answer to it; which is why it is hard to fault people for a) wanting to recline in their seats for comfort and b) wanting to keep as much leg room as possible in what is already a very small space!
There Are Two Types Of Travelers On Planes
It is pretty safe to say that there are 2 types of travelers in the sky.
The first, are people who are courteous and kind. A person who may or may not recline their seat, basing this decision on what those around them are doing; ie; if the person in front has reclined, then they will recline somewhat to keep their own comfort, while still respecting those that it will impact behind them. Majority of the time this will be decided when sleepy time is occurring on a long-haul flight, as sitting upright is just not comfortable.
The second, are people who believe it is their right to recline away. They paid for their seat and if it was made to recline…they will take every inch they get! Unfortunately, since the chairs do recline they are technically in the right here. But, is it really necessary to recline your seat to its full allowance? I find people like this to be really selfish, when everyone is already scrambling for as much room as possible now that seats are becoming smaller by the minute.
I myself, fall into the first group of travelers. I go out of my way not to annoy passengers around me. I think about how much I would hate having a seat in my face for an entire journey and thus don’t push such a position on the person behind me. I only ever slightly recline when trying to sleep, but most of the time my seat is pretty much upright. But that is me.
Luckily, I have only rarely faced a passenger who falls into the second category. Most of the time people are very thoughtful, and considerate when choosing how far to recline, if they do at all.
Passengers Fight It Out Over Leg Space
This week, the debate reared again, when two flights saw altercations on board regarding legroom space.
The first flight which was a United Airlines domestic route from Newark to Denver saw two passengers get in a fight after passenger 1 wanted to recline their seat. The only problem was that passenger 2 had used a device called a ‘Knee Defender’ as they were using a laptop; which are clips which slide onto your tray table handles, and in effect they don’t allow the person in front’s chair to recline. These are basically illegal on majority of airlines.
After being asked by the flight attendant to remove the device and refusing; passenger 1 threw a cup of water at passenger 2 and a fight ensued for obvious reasons, forcing an emergency landing and removal of them both from the plane by air marshals who were on board in case of terrorism! The funny thing about all this though, is that this altercation occurred in economy plus where there is 4 more inches of legroom than standard economy seats…people just can’t be satisfied!
A second flight a few days later, this time an American Airlines flight from Miami to Paris, saw a similar altercation, minus the ‘Knee Defender’ and water throwing. This time a French passenger was not happy the passenger in front reclined her seat and refused to cooperate with crew. The flight again was forced to land and the French passenger was removed from the plane.
What Is The Answer?
So how do we ensure that all passengers are happy on their plane journey? We can’t.
But what we can be is considerate of others. If we want a comfortable journey, so does everyone else on board. The key is that we all keep that in mind next time we decide to recline our seat all the way down.
If others bother you, speak to someone. If it can’t be sorted out, then everyone behind this one person will just have to recline until the flight is over. But getting mad about it isn’t going to solve anything. It will just delay everyone on your flight and could force your removal off it altogether.
Selfish people exist everywhere.
But you chose whether you wish to be selfish on a plane, or considerate of those around you.
The bottom line is, you can still enjoy certain comforts without being an asshole.
So remember that whenever you fly.