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Reclining Your Seat - A Right Or Privilege?  
User currently offlineBackfire From Germany, joined Oct 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5689 times:

One of those "how would you handle..." situations:

A couple of days ago I was on a long-haul flight where the woman in the seat ahead of mine insisted on trying to recline it.

It doesn't usually bother me. But this aircraft had a very narrow seat pitch which was fairly incompatible with the length of my legs. Which meant that, as this lady tried to recline, the seat jammed against my legs and wouldn't go back any further - despite her thumping it.

Just when I thought she'd resign herself to the idea that she wouldn't be able to fully recline the seat, she asked a flight attendant for help. He promptly braced himself against the seat and gave it an almighty shove.

Given that I was reading at the time, and didn't know what was about to happen, the first I knew about it was the sudden painful jarring in my knees and thigh bones.

Now I'm normally fairly patient with my fellow passengers, and even on this occasion I didn't make a fuss. But I do wonder whether people ought to consider the poor person behind them before they put their seat back - and start seeing the "recline" button as a privilege rather than some God-given right.

Any long-legged passengers out there feel the same?

Or are you the recline-at-all-costs type? Big grin

59 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offline7E72004 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3587 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5614 times:

I think if you are flying you should be expected to expect ( Smile) the person in front of you may want to recline their seat. If you don't want that then try to get the bulkhead or an exit row  Big thumbs up

The next generation of aircraft is just around the corner!
User currently offlineBCAInfoSys From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5595 times:

I see both sides of the issue.. I'm a big guy, (6'4" with particularly long legs), so I always hate it when the guy in front of me reclines. But at the same time, I always want to recline mine.

So I would say that this a right and not a privilage. You paid for the seat, and you have the right to recline it. Granted, courtesy and consideration would go a long way towards peace with your fellow passengers, but if you really want to put your seat back, you have that right. And the guy behind you will ultimately have to put up (the $$$ for 1st class) or shutup.

User currently offline7E72004 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3587 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5587 times:

How about the kid that sits in back of you and keeps hitting your seat when you recline  Angry

The next generation of aircraft is just around the corner!
User currently offlineSnnams From Ireland, joined Apr 2004, 288 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5549 times:

I only ever recline if the seat behind me is empty, the person behind me in asleep and won't care, or if I've asked them. Simple eh?  Wink/being sarcastic

I know it's more comfortable reclined, but some people just seem to feel entitled to increase their personal space at the expense of yours at the most inconvenient of times..i.e when trying to eat, read, watch IFE etc etc.. it drives me insane! and i'm only 5ft 10"!

User currently offlineItsjustme From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2832 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5517 times:

I always make it a point to sloooooowly recline my seat. That way, it gives the person sitting behind me time to adjust their legs or stablize whatever might be on their tray. It also gives me the ability to stop reclining the second I feel any sort of resistance. I feel that comfort is a convenience, not a right.

User currently offlineGSPSPOT From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3383 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5477 times:

It's very simple.... Since the airlines and/or manufacturers provide this feature for every seat in the plane (with a few safety-related exceptions), this shouldn't even be an issue. The recline shouldn't even be offered in the first place if it's considered to be an imposition on other pax.

Finally made it to an airline mecca!
User currently offlineSean-SAN- From United States of America, joined Aug 2002, 801 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5445 times:

Unfortunately, if your legs are too long to be comfortable, you should secure an exit row (perhaps if you're elite on AA or UA) or pay the extra for first class. Everyone should be able to recline their seat.

This actually happened to me two years ago on SAN-LGW on BA, a tall guy behind me asked me to move my seat up because he didn't have any room. I said no, so he called the attendant. The flight attendant asked me again and I said no, and she told the guy there was nothing she could do. The guy then started cussing and taunting me -- which motivated me to recline my seat to the maximum recline  Big grin..

User currently offlineIowa744fan From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 931 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5388 times:

I personally hate the recline option. I am 6'2", so my knees are often already to the seat in front of me. If the person in front of me reclines, I leave my knees there so that they feel it bumping into something. Usually, they get the hint and don't recline. By the same idea, I don't recline my seat unless there is no one behind me. I don't want people to do it to me, so I don't do it to them.

Thankfully, as a loyal United customer, I am usually able to get the E-Plus area if flying coach, in which case I will recline if I wish to sleep.

Personally, I feel that it is a right that you get when you buy a more expensive seat...usually in the front of the plane.

User currently offlineLeskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 67
Reply 9, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 5381 times:

I've collected a few unpleasant dents in my knees (I'm 1.89m tall, but have upper legs that are a bit longer than they would normally be for a person of that height) throughout the years - it annoys the hell out of me if people just recline their seat in one big push backwards: I always, just like Itsjustme, push the seat back slowly - it doesn't reduce the comfort for me and the person behind me can get his or her legs sorted out...

I think that this little bit of consideration for the person sitting behind you is really not too much to ask.


Smile - it confuses people!
User currently offlineYEGspotter From Canada, joined Dec 2003, 188 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5336 times:

I am 6'2" tall, and have fairly long legs. On numerous occasions I have also had to endure the pain of a less than considerate person sitting in front of me, reclining the seat fully back. Now, I'm not saying that people should recline their seats back, I would just like to see some consideration for the person sitting behind them, and suggest to everyone that they don't "fully" recline the seat. I will generally recline my seat back, but only a few inches. Obviously, if the seat directly behind me is not occupied, then I recline fully. I remember one long haul flight where I had the seat back jammed into my knees - every time I moved, my knees would jar the seat in front of me (I'll admit that I wasn't "gentle" when jarring the seat in front of me.) Eventually, the person in front of me became a little irritated at me hitting his seat repeatedly, and turned around to tell me so. I noticed that this gentleman was about the same height as me, so I immediately asked him to sit in my seat and see if he could move without jarring the seat in front. He proceeded to try this, and immediately apologized to me for having his seat so far back. Fortunately, that situation worked out for the best, but there are many that don't. My philosophy is this: If I have to put up with a fully reclined seat, the person in front of me has to put up with me kicking (jarring) their seat repeatedly.

That's my 2 cents


User currently offlineN6376m From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5276 times:

Like any discussion of rights, this one can't be analyzed without a discussion of the responsibilities that attach.

While it may be your right (either legally or just in the sense that it is fair) to recline your seat, I think that everyone has a responsibility to be civil to their fellow passengers. To me that means not reclining your seat quickly or without checking if the passenger behind you has their laptop open. I personally am 6 ft tall and I almost never recline my seat.

On most domestic trips, I'm hardly ever on a plane for more than an hour and a half to two hours and I feel that I can endure the slight discomfort for about this long. When I fly cross country, I feel that everyone has the right to stretch out but I make it a habit to ask whether the person behind me would mind. Most people appreciate the gesture. A few times someone has asked me to hold off reclining until they finished their meal (which I've done).

I think that a little bit our courtesy and consideration resolves just about all the issues. But if someone is so large that they can comfortably fit into a coach seat, I believe that it's up to them to get a business or first class seat either by purchasing it or upgrading.

User currently offlineTodd727 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5252 times:

Here is a website that sells an anit recline device. http://www.kneedefender.com/

User currently offlineAC From Hong Kong, joined Jan 2004, 77 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5248 times:

As my legs are not long (I m only 5'11), I feel the leg space is "acceptable" even the seat in front is fully reclined. But as I like to have some writings or readings on the table, it is a bit hard to do so if the seat in front is not straight. However, as I feel it is the right for all passengers, I have never asked the pax in front to resume the position and I won't hit the seat in front.

I Believe I Can Fly...
User currently offlinePA110 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 2083 posts, RR: 22
Reply 14, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5241 times:
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Seat recline is neither a right nor a priveledge. It simply exists. Reclining one's seat should be a matter of common sense, and more importantly, common courtesy. Recline slowly, and have some measure of understanding for those behind you.

That being said, I believe that any airline offering seat pitches of 31" or less, should probably not even bother having seats that recline. There is already so little room, even an average sized passenger will feel squeezed by a reclining seat in front. But, that's just my opinion.

It's been swell, but the swelling has gone down.
User currently offlineMikedlayer From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 399 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5207 times:

I think it's a priviledge certainly, airlines don't have to let your seats recline if they didn't want to, yet if today airlines made aircraft with non-reclining seats there would be a huge upheavel and they'd most probably go bust on their opening day...


User currently offlineSmcmac32msn From United States of America, joined May 2004, 2211 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 5172 times:

I think its a right to recline your seat, but its always a good idea to ask the person behind you (if there is one), if it is okay to recline the seat. I'm 6'1" and I have looong legs, so I usually find out if I can recline my seats.

Hey Obama, keep the change! I want my dollar back.
User currently offlineCOEWR2587 From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 607 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 5110 times:

I agree w/ Itsjustme 100%. I first see what type of pax it is (heavy set, skinny, a child) so I can determine how much I can recline w/o bothering them. Then I recline slooowly to give them time to adjust and If a start to feel any resistance, it dosen't hurt them and I know to go back up just a tab.

Newark Airport...My Home Away From Home
User currently offlinePualani From United States of America, joined May 2004, 304 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 5081 times:

Todd727...The FAA has issued memos barring the use of the knee defender products so I wouldn't be purchasing a useless item.

I can't tell you how many confrontations I have had to diffuse over the years regarding this topic. The passenger in front has the right to recline their seat back. Passengers not understanding that and try to take matters into their own hands have been met by airport police. I encourage all tall passengers to try and book an exit row or bulk head seat as this will save you a lot of pain and aggravation.


User currently offlineRB211LTN From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2004, 133 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 5059 times:

I think recline is a right, not a privilege. When I was a trolley dolly, I used to insist that seats were upright for meal services but defended the right to recline at all other times. I like the fact that some will get the consent of the person behind, that is good mannered. Somehow I doubt the person in front of them will be quite so considerate.
If you are too tall to tolerate a reclined seat in front of you, get a bulkhead or exit seat or start saving and travel in a premium cabin.

The customer is always right.....unless he is a passenger!
User currently offlineJfkYYZ From Canada, joined May 2004, 109 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 5056 times:

I've seen many confrontations on flights regarding this. At C6 I try to keep all the emergency row exit seats for people who are taller than average just because I can imagine the uncomfortable factor that happens when they are in a seat where they are having their knees jabbed by the seat in front. Though I wonder because I think our row 1 and 10 are the ones with the extra legroom(732). Meh once I get on our 735 I'll know for sure for both.


j. in YYZ
User currently offlineMMEPHX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 21, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 5022 times:

The problem derives from the fact that airlines cram seats into aircraft at miniscule seat pitches. Seems to me that if the seat pitch doesn't allow for reasonable comfort for the passenger behind someone reclining a seat then the airline shouldn't offer the option or offer more legroom.

I'm 6' 4" and passengers reclining seats in front of me can be a problem but it somehow doesn't seem to be such a problem on AA with the more room throughout coach program. If only more airlines could follow that lead we'd all be more comfortable in flight .........but, ah yes that $350 coast to coast roundtrip would probably cost $375 and the majority wouldn't pay. We get what we pay for! So, cheap fares with debatable recline rights/privileges or more room for recline with a slightly higher fare?

User currently offlineGreg From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 4955 times:

As long as it does not hinder the safety of an individual (not inconvenience), they you are able to recline your seat.

I you are inconvenienced by folks reclining, then you should have booked a class of service that gives you more room.

I think it's fairly simple.

Knee defenders are not FAA certified for use. As far as I know, that would make the airline liable (in the figurative sense) if they willingly let an individual use the device that may compromise the integrity of the seat design.

Personaly, I just fly up front. It's easier. And I don't pay, anyway.
On WN, I've never had the problem....oh..except that kicking child thing.

User currently offlineSoaringadi From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 472 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 4812 times:

If you were in the U.S. atleast, I'm sure you could sue the airline or the b*tch in front of you..... but you simply could have reported the situation, and have your seat exchanged with someone......

Happy flying  Smile

If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going !
User currently offlineBA97 From Canada, joined Apr 2004, 377 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (12 years 2 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 4756 times:

Knees and reclining seats....try your lap top. Several times I have had the seat in front recline and the top of the cavity that the folding table came down from catching and squeezing the screen of my laptop. Twice I had the frame start to buckle at the hinge.

there is economy class, business class, first class...then Concorde..pure class
25 Access-Air : I am a bigger person and the seat in front of me is sometimes near my face!!!! Try having a person recline fully with a bad case of dandruff shoved in
26 Cjuniel : Seat recline is definitely a right. It becomes so when you purchase your ticket. Implying that it is a privilege is also implying that you need the pe
27 Nonrevman : To most of us, it is certainly a right. If you think I am not going to recline my seat on an 8 hour overnight flight, you have got to be kidding. With
28 StarCruiser : Don't you find it strange that so many keep saying it is their right to have a recline that inconveniences others? It's all "ME, ME, ME!" What's wrong
29 COAB767 : Everyone has the right to recline their seat.
30 Post contains links Willo : Have a look at this recent thread for more debate on reclining seats: http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/1497601/4/
31 EAL1011500 : As a 6'4" guy, if I HAVE to sit in Y, I make life a living hell for anyone who reclines on me... Its actually pretty easy to push the seats back to th
32 WakeTurbulence : I understand both sides of the recline argument, but as a college student on a very tight budget with no premier status on any airline I am lucky if I
33 EAL1011500 : It would seem Wake and myself are in the same boat, at least in spirit. The only option is to fight back, especially if it is some jackass kid in fro
34 Post contains images Dazed767 : RECLINE! What a childish debate. If moving your seat back 3'' is such a huge issue to some, then they need to sit in the premium cabin. They make them
35 AAJAXFlyer : I just try to make the best of it. Some people dont care but most are very conscious of the fact that they are infringing on my personal space. I fig
36 Greasespot : I like how many people thing it is their god given right to recline their seat no matter who it impacts. Maybe that is what is wrong with society that
37 AAJAXFlyer : If someone is going to be uncomfortable so you can be a little more comfortable why bother. It is not like you will be in pain if you cannot recline
38 Greasespot : Advertisement or not. Still does not mean you have to do it. It all comes down to courtesy and respect for people. GS
39 AAJAXFlyer : Advertisement or not. Still does not mean you have to do it. It all comes down to courtesy and respect for people. I don't recline during a meal serv
40 777heavy : Hi, I'm a new member on a.net and this is my first post ever. In my opinion, this is the wrong discussion. Reclining - a right or a privilege. It shou
41 Whisperliner : its just like the issue for overweight people, if you need space for your legs- pay for it! upgrade to premium. If you don't have the money...too bad.
42 Greasespot : You can be comfortable sitting up right.......How comfortable is the person with a chair on their knees....? GS
43 GSPSPOT : All this discussion would be moot if the airlines would give pax humane seat pitch!! It's their fault.
44 777heavy : GSPSPOT You got the point, the airlines have to change their seating layout, increasing seat pitch, but they do the opposite. This is against the heal
45 Pelican : GSPSOT and 777heavy All this discussion would be moot if the airlines would give pax humane seat pitch!! It's their fault. The airlines have already d
46 GSPSPOT : Unfortunately, Pelican, few U.S. domestic flights have such a thing. And it seems only non-U.S. airlines offer "premium" economy cabins. AA's MRTC is
47 BA97 : AAJAXFlyer : thanks for looking for my lap top. We are all stuck in a cigar tube for hours. Mutual understanding. I want to recline to get an inch be
48 AAJAXFlyer : You shouldn't have to pay extra for comfort. Obviously enough people find airline seats comfortable enough to keep traveling in them. If they were in
49 Speedbirdheavy : When you purchase a ticket, you rent the space that between where you rest your legs under the seat in front of you, to the place where the seat is in
50 Ual4me : I think its a right to recline. Out of respect for the people behind me, I always bring the seatback upright for meals, until I know that their meal h
51 Post contains images Backfire : It gets on my nerves when people simply say "pay for business class". Business-class, as its name suggests, is designed for passengers travelling on b
52 MAS A330 : When flying in Y, i hardly ever, if possible, recline my seat. Even if i do, i dont recline it all the way.
53 BR715-A1-30 : Whenever I fly, I always ask the person behind me if they would mind if I reclined my seat. Usually though no one sits behind me, because I sit in the
54 Post contains images GKirk : Fly Ryanair,you dont get a choice
55 747400F : Sure you have a right to recline, just I have a right not to move my knees if they dig into your back![Edited 2004-05-17 13:18:01]
56 JGPH1A : I guess you'd have to call it a right, because it is a feature of the seat for which you have paid your fare. HOWEVER, with every right comes comensur
57 Backfire : JGPH1A: Well said, sir. I hope I'm sitting behind you on my next flight.
58 Airbear : IMO, when you pay for a seat (money or points, doesn't matter) on a flight, you are entitled to all the comfort and features that may be available in
59 Biggles20 : Hello All, I always find it quite amusing when the person in front reclines their seat, usually just after take-off, which in turn forces me to reclin
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