THAT is the question!
Our recent post “Six highly annoying habits of infrequent flyers” drew quite a response from our readers – especially on the question of whether or not a passenger should feel free to recline his or her seat, and if so, under what circumstances.
It’s a question that never goes away – and sometimes comes back strong, like in 2014 when a couple of nasty incidents involving passengers’ use of the Knee Defender resulted in arguments that caused flights to be diverted. (The 12-year-old Knee Defender is a plastic item some travelers buy to install over their tray table arms; it prevents the seat ahead of them from reclining. Fortune magazine even devoted an article to whether or not a traveler might have a right to sue if the Knee Defender was deployed against them.)
Advocates of reclining their seat argue that if they didn’t have a right to recline, the airlines wouldn’t install reclining seats. Opponents suggest that maybe they shouldn’t. (And some low-fare carriers – Allegiant and Spirit – don’t. Here’s a look at how that worked out for them.)
Anyway, following is a summary of reader comments about the pros and cons of seat reclining. What about YOU? Please leave your comments below…
“I never ever recline. I’m 6’3″ and when someone reclines it seriously hurts me. I know that the chairs recline, but they shouldn’t. My knees (except in first class) are already in the back of the seatback in front of me. Which is why I always try to book an aisle so that I can at least extend one leg. I’m fine when people in first class recline as it usually doesn’t cause me any issues, but unless you’re riding in first class PLEASE I’m begging you for the sake of all of us that are tall (or perhaps just have long legs), don’t recline! We can’t do anything about our height.” – Joshua Titus
“I have a bad lower back, and airline seats seem designed to put the most stress on it–so yes, I still recline (and still need ibuprofen). However, I go back slowly and gently, since I know someone is back there. Most irritating to me are those folks who use something to block the recline function.” – Kevin Ford
“I still recline. If we weren’t supposed to recline, the seats wouldn’t have the ability to do so.” — SkippingDog
“Each to their own (feel the ‘zen’), but isn’t this like lighting up onboard an older aircraft because there are still ash trays in the arms?” — Howard
“Not at all, since the law and the rules are that nobody smokes on airplanes anymore. When there’s a law or a rule that prohibits reclining my seat, I’ll certainly comply with it.” – SkippingDog
“I recline but I go back very slowly.” – Jeff
“If the seat has recline, then I’m going to recline. If you don’t like it, pay for business class. – Anthony Wong
“On some aircraft, the seat has an ash tray too! This is not about what’s possible or legal, it’s about what’s polite and protocol. PS — I do recline too, but only on flights where one might reasonably expect most people to be sleeping/resting.” – Howard
“Reclining makes it really challenging for the person behind you to work, eat, and be comfortable. It’s an antiquated concept on modern jets (at least in coach).” – David Mandelbaum
“Under two hours, rarely recline. Longer than that, I recline on take-off when I know the tray tables are up.” – RD
“The fact that planes are too full is a problem for the airline, but doesn’t change the fact that the seats are made to recline. Unless I’m flying for work, I usually fly first class these days, and I recline there too.” – SkippingDog
“I don’t recline, even in first class. You are cutting into the space of the person behind you. I am always furious when the person in front of me reclines.” — Hokey
Why don’t you chime in with your two cents on this contentious issue? Fire away in the comments below.
NOTE: Be sure to click here to see all recent TravelSkills posts about: How to get the BEST summer fare deals | One airline fee fading fast | Trip Report: Aer Lingus Economy Class | 5 top jobs for frequent travelers | First class phase out coming soon