The controversial debate about reclining seats on airlines has once again reared its head, and after years of debating this issue there finally seems to be a general consensus. It is rude and inconsiderate to recline your seat in modern economy class, recliners are obnoxious and selfish people and reclining seats themselves should just be banned outright.
This long held debate came up again recently after an incident on an American Airlines flight where a passenger was filmed repeatedly knocking the back of a fully reclined seat when the other passenger refused to put it back up again. It caused a social media storm with arguments on both sides getting pretty heated, but one thing is for sure now. There is no place for reclining seats in modern economy class aircraft.
The airlines fault?
Seat pitch has on average shrunk by 5 or 6 inches on modern aircraft in the last 20 years due to airlines trying to squeeze more and more rows of seats into the aircraft. And I get it, the argument about increasing leg room again is a fair one. In fact in any debate about increasing seat pitch again I would be up there fighting that fight with you. Now I agree some reduction has been absolutely necessary for them to maintain profits; that is after all how we all manage to get reasonably or even cheap flights, I agree entirely with that, but they absolutely have gone too far. Seat pitch has shrunk to the point where it is actually becoming dangerous, never mind just uncomfortable!
But that is exactly why people should not be allowed to recline any more.
Regardless of the argument about if they should be shrinking seat pitch however is the simple fact that they have shrunk. A lot. Far more than the space that we used to have for reclining seats to be viable, and since that is not going to change any time soon passengers have to realise that reclining is no longer acceptable.
This is especially true when you consider each generation is getting taller and 6″2 is now considered average for a Western man! You want cheap flights? We had to lose space. We lost space, you can’t recline any more!
There are other solutions of course.
Having a recline only section at the back with a locked seat, non recline section at the front of economy would be a sensible solution, or they could fit seats that slide forward as they recline so you lose leg space if you want to recline but it doesn’t affect the person behind you. The technology exists!
But since neither of those are likely to happen and airlines will continue to ignore the issue until they get rid of reclining seats entirely, the onus is on passengers to be understanding and kind, but since that isn’t going to happen either the reclining seats should just go entirely.
People are just too selfish to be trusted.
The selfish and inconsiderate attitudes displayed by many recliners show that common decency and manners don’t play a part in the issue any more, and since the airlines will continue to ignore the issue reclining seats should just be banned entirely.
I have written about this issue many times, sometimes jokingly referring to reclining seats as one of the biggest passenger annoyances, giving (tongue in cheek) advice about how to deal with recliners on planes that don’t involve punching the back of their seats repeatedly or debating whether reclining seats should be banned, but I am not the only one who has come to this conclusion.
According to numerous studies and surveys now, over 90% of passengers want reclining seats banned entirely on flights less than 6 hours, and 75% want them banned on all flights entirely. Even the majority of flight attendants want them banned because they are the cause of so much hassle and trouble they simply don’t want to deal with!
Even the CEO of Delta Airlines weighed in this time, the first time I have actually seen an airline’s take on the issue (correct me if I’m wrong) and said that he himself doesn’t recline, but for those who do checking with the person behind you first and asking permission is the right thing to do.
And just for those people in the cheap seats if you don’t get that permission the implication is don’t recline!
Basically speaking the absolute majority of people think recliners are rude and selfish, and think reclining seats should be banned. Is that clear enough for you recliners?
So why are recliners even still trying to justify the act of reclining their seat?
It’s your right to recline? No it isn’t. Ever heard the saying ‘your right to swing your fist ends where the next mans nose begins’? He was a smart man that Oliver Wendell Holmes. What that means is your rights end as soon as they infringe on someone else’s rights, in this case my rights to personal space and not having physical harm or injury caused to me by a heavy seat weighed down by your fat arse directly pressing on my knees. It is a fundamental tenet of rights and human rights law.
You paid for your seat and have the right to use the functions of it? Well I paid for mine too cupcake and you are stopping me from using the tray or the TV properly, and I have a right to use those functions.
You find sitting up uncomfortable? Well guess what? We all do! We are all relatively uncomfortable sat up in the confined spaces of economy, but at least the default of us all sitting up means that we are all on an even basis and us all being in that default position isn’t causing pain or discomfort to someone else just so you can get a tiny little bit more comfortable! In other words we aren’t sacrificing someone else’s comfort for our own!
You have a sore back? Well I have sore knees due to you reclining on them. I’m not causing your bad back, you are directly affecting the pain and injury in my knees. If you know you have a medical condition beforehand where the default sitting position will cause you pain, the onus is on you to make other arrangements. Pay to upgrade to business where reclining is not an issue, or take shorter segmented flights. The default position is uncomfortable for me too but I can put up with it provided no extra discomfort like a reclining seat is added, so I am the one who gets to use that default position without paying more.
Time for an all out ban.
There is no question about this now. The majority of people want it, the majority of airline crew want it, and airlines are finally starting to see that it may be a better option.
It really is time for an all out ban on reclining seats. Ironically we are now in a tie where we may be getting a ban through the back door, and banning or locking seats may soon not even be necessary.
The rise of the pre reclined fixed seat.
Many airlines now, from Ryanair and EasyJet to British Airways and Lufthansa and many more are now using pre reclined seats. These are seats that passengers can’t adjust at all but already have a slight degree of incline set at about an inch or two. These have been traditionally associated with low cost airlines on short routes but are making their way into major carriers on longer and longer flights.
This isn’t out of an altruistic move by airlines to make passengers lives a little more comfortable on flights though, this is because these seats tend to be cheaper, lighter, thinner and much more cost effective than traditional seats. Basically they use up less fuel and are cheaper to install and maintain. You can always trust airlines to do what is economically best for them, so there will be no need for a reclining seat ban now that the airlines are seeing they can make more profit by not having reclining as an option in the first place, and that is why it won’t be long before these seats get rolled out more and more.
But they do have two big advantages for passengers. The first is that the thinner and lighter seats give back some of that precious seat pitch that has been lost over the years. Basically they are thinner and give more leg room. Second, and most importantly, they don’t recline.
So recliners can feel free to use the function of their seats, when they no longer recline!
Did you enjoy this article? Do you think these actions are reasonable or do you think they are over the top? Are you a dreaded recliner? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.