One topic related to airplane etiquette that will generate an endless amount of controversy is whether reclining your seat on an airplane is a right or a privilege. My stance has always been that it’s a right, though I believe common courtesy should be exercised. In other words, if the person in front of you is reclining their seat you can reasonably ask them if they wouldn’t mind reclining less. If they don’t want to, though, that’s within their right in my opinion. The decision to recline is within the control of the person that has the recline button.
Of course many disagree with me, though I’ll add the disclaimer that I don’t recline in coach out of courtesy, and in first class I’ll always look back when reclining to make sure it’s okay with the person seated behind me. I usually choose the last row of first class for exactly this reason, so I don’t have to annoy anyone when I recline my seat. It’s also a reason I love American’s new slimline “shell” type domestic first class seats, because instead of reclining into the person behind you your seat just moves forward.
But then there’s this FlyerTalk thread, about a guy on a US Airways flight from Charlotte to Los Angeles in first class. After takeoff he started working and reclined his seat, and as a result the lady seated behind him (in the last row of first class) put her air vent on him instead of asking if he wouldn’t mind reclining a bit less. Eventually the flight attendant got called and threats were made. Read the thread because it’s quite entertaining. Though this raises an interesting question.
Is blowing your air nozzle at someone else a right or a privilege? My logic above is that seat recline is a right partly because the ability to control recline rests with the person reclining. Similarly, the ability to point the air nozzle rests with the person seated behind him, so isn’t it her right to blow her air nozzle wherever she wants to?
Further, in both cases the person not in control is being inconvenienced (in the case of the air nozzle it’s with unwanted air, and in the case of seat recline it’s with less personal space).
The only difference I can tell is that reclining your seat isn’t necessarily malicious, while blowing your air nozzle at someone is. Then again, some people might just consider blowing an air nozzle at someone a (passive aggressive) form of communication.
Regardless, it’s an entertaining read. Even more entertaining in the US Airways forum on FlyerTalk today is this thread:
Two old, fat, slow men working first class – what would you do?