USA Today wrote a story this week on the controversial subject of seat reclining. As the story points out, many airlines are pushing the limits of passengers by literally squeezing seats into every last available inch in order to generate more revenue. It seems these days that you don’t even have to be that tall to feel cramped when the person in front of you decides to recline. And if you happen to have something underneath the seat in front of you good luck trying to get it once your row is filled up. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a charley horse or crick in my neck trying to pull something out of my bag when it’s under the seat in front of me. It’s for this very reason that I recommend having what you need from your personal item during the flight either in an outside pocket, or positioned in some other easily accessible way (AKA not at the bottom of your bag). (This is also why I often choose to sit in the aisle.)
I’m sure you all remember the reclining craziness earlier this year. After the Knee Defender incident this summer I wrote how this particular situation could have been avoided. Unless I am first class or economy plus, I personally choose not to recline during flights (although this wasn’t always the case). While I don’t begrudge someone else reclining, the reason I don’t recline anymore is I just don’t want to be responsible for taking space away from someone else. Not to mention, it can hurt the knees of people who are tall and (if done quickly) has the potential to break someone’s computer.
The USA Today story has some guidance that I mostly support. One suggestion is to ask before you recline. (Of course, I always see that suggested but I have never ever had someone ask me if it’s okay if they recline. Hmmmmm.) They also recommend not to recline during meal times—this one is big, as reclining can make it virtually impossible for the person behind you to eat. Next the story says if someone leans into your personal space, ask them to unlean a little. I haven’t done this personally but if your knees are getting crushed when they recline then that passenger should be a team player and un-recline. The story closes with the suggestion to ask a flight attendant to move you if the situation escalates, or (worst case) deploy the knee defender if necessary and permitted. I totally agree with asking a flight attendant to move you but I would not recommend deploying the Knee Defender in any situation. Period. Seat reclining, in my opinion, should be handled through dialog between the passengers, or by working with a flight attendant. Methods such as the Knee Defender are asking for trouble.
Another thing to keep in mind that the article didn’t address—some people literally have to recline due to medical issues. So while it’s easy to give advice across the board, there are always special situations which require different handling (and a little more compassion).
Readers, do you agree with the advice given in this article? Have you ever had anyone ask you if it’s okay if they recline?
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