She Had Every Right To Recline Her Seat, But He Accosted Her Anyway

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for purchases made through some of the below links. These are products and services we use ourselves, and are the best offers we know of. Check out our Advertising Policy for further details. Thanks for your support!

As a female who frequently travels solo, I’ve encountered my fair share of challenging seat mates. As I prefer the window seat I’m often boxed in between the fuselage and a random business traveler (almost exclusively male).

Most of the time everyone is delightful, but at least a third of my seat mates leave me shaking my head, with things like:

  • Asking why I’m traveling solo
  • Ordering drinks for me (unprompted)
  • Finding excuses to touch my arm or leg
  • Physically removing my headphones so they can continue talking to me
  • Following me through the airport on arrival, and being hostile when I don’t guest them into a lounge
  • Putting their belongings under the seat in front of me, because he “needed to work during the flight”

My favorite, however, is a toss-up between the gentleman who noted that I was “a decent traveler, for a woman” as he left his iPad in the seat-back pocket, and the man well into his 80’s diligently studying a copy of She Comes First and wanting my thoughts. Just no.

But I’ve never had to deal with anyone really aggressive, fortunately, though I like to think I’d be able to handle (or escalate) things appropriately.

I came across the story yesterday of a woman who was downright harassed by the man in the seat behind her on a British Airways flight on Sunday that has me questioning that confidence. The problems started when she tried to recline her Premium Economy seat, which the man was not going to tolerate:

“I’m sorry, but I need to sleep, and I’m going to recline my chair.”

“Then I’m going to do this,” he said, grabbing the back of the seat and shaking it (and me with it) violently up and down…He grinned, he looked at me, and he said the following:

“I can go all night.”

Now, we are on record here at OMAAT in believing that when you purchase an airline seat, you purchase the use of all the corresponding functionality. The “Knee Defender” is unnecessary, and reclining your seat is a reasonable thing to be able to do.

But for some reason being in airplanes encourages horrible behavior from some people — last year a man even tried to choke a woman when she tried to recline her seat.

British Airways has 38″ of pitch in World Traveler Plus, which while hardly spacious is 8″ more than they offer in their premium Club Europe cabin. Given the limited recline, having someone recline the seat in front of you isn’t going to ruin your life.

British-Airways-Club-Europe
British Airways Club Europe

This man didn’t agree though:

He physically invaded my space. He shook me, literally and figuratively.

“You don’t get to talk to me that way,” I said. And again, “I have a right to recline my chair.”

“No, you don’t,” he said. “That’s not going to work for me, and you need to find a compromise I can live with.”

Regardless of where your position in the right-to-recline debate, I think we can agree that this is just a ludicrous way to behave towards someone, particularly if they’re becoming visibly upset.

The woman handled it appropriately — extricating herself from the situation and informing the crew in the galley:

I immediately walked to the back of the plane, shaking.  I told the flight crew what was happening. They crowded around me, concerned. They brought me water. They told me I was right to tell them. They held my hand.

Condolences and a cup of tea are a quintessentially British response, and I love that they were sympathetic. The crew also tried to deescalate and reason with with man, but he was hostile to them as well. They eventually moved the woman and her travel companion to Club World to get away from him.

That seems like the right thing to do, but I’m shocked that they didn’t request for police to meet the flight. Being a dick to a passenger is one (unacceptable) thing, but (for better or worse), disobeying crew member instructions is illegal.

I checked with two airline-employee friends, who had similar thoughts:

I agree with the upgrade. I think they should have had police meet the flight.

and

The police would have been involved for sure. Probably no charge but still. This probably happens once every two months on my flights.

It sounds like this woman has had prior experiences that might make her more sensitive to hostility and aggression, but I still think this is ridiculous.

There’s just no excuse for this type of behavior, particularly not in a metal tube that everyone is trapped in for 12 hours. If you want more space, choose a bulkhead seat, or strategize having an empty seat next to you. Don’t be a jackwagon.

Have you experienced something similar? What would you have done if you’d been in (or observed) this situation?

Comments

  1. That asshat just needs to mess with the wrong guy and a quick pop in the face will throw him down a few notches.

  2. I read this story yesterday and was completely incensed at his vicious behavior. He even told her that she should be grateful for the upgrade she got because the flight crew moved her and her partner.

    If there was an air marshal on board, they should have been asked to intervene.

    If not, he should have been met by the police and charged with assault. His aggressive terroristic behavior triggered a full blown panic attack, so I can see her not wanting to add to her troubles.

    I wish she would have shown a photo of the boor.

  3. The weirdest thing is this happening in Premium Economy. I still think reclining in coach is barbaric, but 38″ of seat pitch isn’t that different from US domestic first. I can’t imagine being worried about the person in front of me reclining when there’s that much space.

  4. Being a dick isn’t an offence in England & Wales (unfortunately), but assault is, and the behaviour described would constitute an assault. Not withstanding any refusal to obey crew / captains instructions etc

  5. Shaking the chair while person is in it probably with intent would be sufficient level to be charged. If not, would have to wonder why not.

  6. Don’t the airlines keep a file of passengers they have banned for various reasons. BA should definitely put him on that list. If the incident occurred as described I would have had the police involved, too.

  7. I think the term “deescalate” is telling. It’s likely that if this kind of behaviour goes unchecked, it can escalate – in other words, the next time he loses control perhaps he’ll attack someone. The police most definitely should have been called. They can issue a warning and also I think in the UK they can make a note of the incident and record his name even if no charge is laid.

  8. What I read in the article was a woman who cannot help making it all about her panic attacks, her sensitive nature, her feelings, etc. This is assault, it is a factual matter. Stop driveling and emoting for one second and treat it as such. The FAs gave her water but did not deal with the attacker? That’s grotesque, and maybe very British. Nasty all around.

  9. I’m usually conscious about reclining and do it slowly (and not by much) but once I had a passenger behind me punch my seat (on a redeye) for a good 30 minutes until the person gave up.

    Probably should’ve told a FA but I was young and didn’t know how to handle the situation.

  10. Just read the full post – Seattle. Don’t know if police give warnings there like the UK. Anyone?

    Yes, she certainly reacted strongly, but at the end of the day the guy refused to follow crew instructions and was using threatening behaviour. End of story.

  11. the crew made a mistake by not getting the police involved, why, because he will continue to harass other passengers on other flights going forward. no authority to put him in warning is a blank check to continue his il behavior.

  12. Let me see, did ghe man spend a considerable time at the airport bar?
    Was the plane warmer than normal?
    Was that plane an old and seriously noise 747?
    Were both of them Brits?

    Seriously, I have flown BA PE and it is quite good. The man was a jerk and way out of order.

    You stop me from reclining using such abusive behavior, I can guarantee you will end up in a hospital !!

  13. I read this yesterday too. I guess his horrible personality served as his own knee defender. What a mess! I agree that she or BA should have requested the police meet the plane. We have to stand up to all bullies together, no matter where we find them. I also agree it’s just a matter of time til he escalates this or does it to the wrong person. Karma, but sometimes I wish we were there to see it. I hope he eventually gets his.

  14. Typical American (and usually a white guy comes to mind)

    The same angry white jerks that are trump supporters because they think they are owed subservience because they are white.

    Yeah, how racist of me. Irony if a trump supporter calls out racism.

  15. @Credit Yeah it’s OK for you to be racist, just not everyone else, right? Typical socialist perennial victimhood mentality. I want stuff, I want you to pay for it. I want to do what I want, but you don’t get to. Me me me. Aren’t you late for a BLM protest?

  16. If I were her husband, I would have switched seats with her, reclined the chair, and let him shake it. I would just laugh and watch him get angry as it wouldn’t affect me and piss him off much more. If he wanted to be a dick I’d just return the favor.

  17. Good thing it wasn’t the FCQ’s chair they were shaking. They would have needed the police AND medical personnel to meet the flight. 🙂 I’ve heard the FCQ say “if you tap the screen on the back of my seat one more time, I am going to tap you!”. 🙂

  18. The seat-shaking psycho is one thing.

    But, Tiffany, your tales of douchebag guys sitting next to you make me embarrassed to be a man.

  19. A moderator needs to remove post 3494456 immediately. There’s no excuse for that kind of garbage.

  20. This would have been a whole different story if it was an African American or Muslim behaving like this. Police would have been called without even thinking about it.

  21. Eric W. – Agreed.

    Although maybe it should be left as an ironic illustration of precisely the kind of male-dominant ignorance and vileness that Tiffany was talking about.

  22. I think the female passenger did everything right. I think the crew should have reported this jerk behind her to the police–and then British Airways should permanently ban the jerk from its flights. He is entitled to be a jerk, of course, but he is not legally entitled to disobey a flight crew’s legal request nor legally entitled to fly British Airways as an unruly passenger.

    If more airlines showed a zero tolerance policy towards jerks, with satisfactory due process available to ensure that such treatment is fair and appropriate, and simply banned morons like these, I’m sure we’d see fewer incidents.

  23. I’ve read the original blog post and I think it’s quite telling that her male travel companion “didn’t step in b/c he didn’t know it was that serious” or something to that effect. I’m fairly sure she is over-reacting and I love how she immediately jumps to “sexism”…seriously? It’s also telling that he didn’t get arrested. If he actually assaulted her, he would have been. I’d love to hear the other side of the story…oh wait, I wouldn’t b/c it’s clearly a fairy tale.

  24. Ben– why do you let morons and trolls post comments on your articles (i.e. “Josh”? Don’t you have a right to eliminate the posts?

  25. 1) That guy was a major asshole.

    2) It sucks that you’ve had to deal with so many annoying passengers, Tiffany….some people are beyond clueless.

  26. Dear Ben & Tiffany: So, on the “Credit” thing, you were right and I was wrong.

    Despite some truly clever comment posts both recently and over the years . . . in an obnoxious, trolling vein obviously . . . it turns out that the guy is just a garden variety nut job after all. The weirdly obsessive trolling should’ve clued me in more, I guess.

    To summarize, I was wrong. Sorry. — Tom

  27. @Pamm – “If there was an air marshal on board, they should have been asked to intervene.”

    Not unless the guy was going to take down the plane.

  28. So, I don’t actually think this necessarily should be about gender, though I respect that this woman has had prior experiences which transformed this one into something very emotional.

    It ultimately doesn’t matter whether she got “upset” or “over-reacted” or not. Aggressive behavior towards other passengers is not acceptable on an airplane.

    As far as my personal experiences go — it is what it is. I think everyone has probably had a similar ratio of annoying seat mates. There is just a different level of assumed permissiveness in our culture when the interaction is male > male versus male > female or female > female. So the people who act like Neanderthals to me are probably going to be just as obnoxious to you. It just looks different.

    Also, the comments today are reflective of what I see when I fly. Most people are considerate and thoughtful (even when they disagree). Others should be embarrassed.

  29. Tiffany, I am glad you wrote this blog. Looks like BA is attracting Ryanair crowd, great achievement for WW. Cup of water/tea and upgrade are fine, but they forgot his bracelets.

    I always wonder, the way airlines are cramming business class, it is outright offensive to women and embarrassing to decent men. How to women deal with non-staggered 2-3-2 J.

  30. @ Brian L – thanks for letting me know.

    @ Josh. My goodness you are an angry man. I suppose you could say that there is no proof that the man that lowered his shoulder and shoved me into the seat back of my row, and breaking four ribs. (I was putting my carryon into the overhead bin).

    It has been so long that the medical records have been destroyed as well as the police report. I did have him arrested and I did press charges so they are somewhere in the Atlanta PD’s database.

    And now, Josh, will you be commenting on my weight and appearance, or maybe that I deserved to be assaulted and injured, just because you don’t have proof?

    I daresay, Josh, you are part of the problem.

  31. It’s entirely possible that the woman in this case didn’t want to make a fuss once the issue itself was resolved.

    That sort of behaviour from men is not entirely unlikely from UK men (whom the outside world still sometimes assume are all like Hugh Grant. NOPE). From that “I can go all night” comment that does not sound like one of my countrymen.

    She did right to let the crew resolve her issue if she did not feel confident. I’m afraid I’d have told him if he didn’t like the normal function of the seat he was in, he should move. That alleged “you should be grateful you got an upgrade” attitude made me laugh – talk about passive aggressive.

    Josh, I hope you get some help with your problems with women. Mysogeny isn’t attractive and won’t help you get laid.

  32. It’s difficult to know what to make of an incident when all we have is the perspective of a single participant. That blog post doesn’t exactly come across as a rational and objective statement of the facts. Given that her partner did not see fit to intervene and the crew did not involve the authorities, I suspect the events may not have unfolded 100% as she described them.

  33. The guy was a complete D*CK. The crew did handle it well. He was probably some Chav who had an attitude about everything in life.

    I would have done what one of the other comments above said, switched seats with my wife, let him bash the hell out of my seat for a bit, then I would have called the crew over. I mean the Animal in me wants to just give the guy a punch in the face for treating any passenger like that, but that would definitely only make things worse.

  34. I do not get the debate over reclining. Seems like that whole “controversy” spontaneously developed a year or two ago out of thin air. Sitting in economy I had never given a second thought when someone reclines in front of me.

  35. I’ve flown a few million miles in economy over the years, all of them as a solo female passenger. I normally don’t recline a seat out of courtesy to the person behind me. On occasion I have and a few men have have asked me nicely not to do it and I was happy to comply. This guy was a world class jerk if you can believe the accounts. I can’t be critical of her actions or those of the crew. Speaking for myself, I always pick my fights wisely and in a case like this, I’d just let it go and not recline. That said, occasionally I travel with my 6’5″ very fit younger brother and if this jerk had behaved like that in front of him, he would have been picking his teeth off the cabin floor.

    These days, I fly F and J and like you said, it’s a Men’s Club in the front of the plane. Mostly the conversations are “where are you from, where are going today, what do you do for a living,” kind of stuff at the beginning of the flight and then we all respect each other’s space and solitude and I work, sleep or watch a movie depending on the flight. Always have had a premium people experience in premium cabin flights. The perverts and jerks are always in the back of the plane or in the terminals in my experience.

  36. What I will say is this – the original source appears to be highly emotive. Now one might say this is totally understandable if an individual has been subject to such behaviour….

    One difficulty we have is not having any corroborative evidence at all as to what actually took place; a response from BA/crew even via a newspaper article etc. I very much doubt that the conversation as set out in detail in the original blog is completely accurate – I think that unlikely given the circumstances. My own sense is that the woman somewhat over-reacted (in the production of the report at least); nevertheless the man’s alleged behaviour was COMPLETELY REPREHENSIBLE although probably difficult to describe as a crime. Whilst such behaviour might constitute an assault it would depend on the actual circumstances – I note the woman’s companion did not feel the need to comment on the situation and thought the situation had been dealt with appropriately and “diffused”. At the moment all we have is a somewhat florid one-sided version of events.

    I think the whole reclining issue is a hornets’ nest I don’t really want to get into.

  37. When I flew from singapore to london I put my seat back and this guy hit it and said move it forward. I looked back and saw he had a metal hook for a hand. I imagined him sinking it into my brain mid flight so promptly moved it forward.

  38. While this guy crossed the line with shaking the seat the woman’s initial response of im going to recline to the hell with you is also annoying. Some of us are tall and dont like having the person on front of us slam their seat into our knees. It is extremely uncomfortable and i find it rude when people recline all the way back knowing it puts the person behind in distress. Granted i havent flown this flight so i dont know how mych space he had but i have had experiences with the persons chair basically in my lap and i cant even use the tray. Its rare to be that packed in but it has happened to me before.

  39. Chuck Lesker – that’s a very sexist comet but I guess uneducated rednecks have Internet access too..

  40. This story/post Lost all Cred when I saw the photo (of ‘the victim’) … typical 1980’s born, Y-Gen tvrd …welcome to the era of Self-entitlement with a God damn nose-piecing … Rand looks more fem then her like a hipster Dufous who wouldn’t say boo to anyone and hardly would stand up for her. I’m of the opinion …serious mental health issues on all parties concerned here , the feminazia are taking over bra !

  41. “It sounds like this woman has had prior experiences that might make her more sensitive to hostility and aggression…”

    Stop it. Just, no. The aggressive passenger was 100% out of line, and verbally and physically threatening to her person. No disclaimer needed. You basically just told her she overreacted, whether you intended to or not. As a society and as women, we need to stop with excusing our feeling threatened by VERY REAL THREATS TO OUR SAFETY by our past VERY REAL THREATS TO OUR SAFETY.

  42. @ Laura — Oh, didn’t intend it to sound that way at all. As I see it, it doesn’t matter how she reacted, he was out of line.

    Her reaction was more emotional than (I think) mine would have been. I would have been furious, but probably not distraught. That comes from a difference in experience, and was what I was trying to get at.

  43. I would have loved to know if this guy was also reclining his own seat or was he actually being “polite” to the person behind him? I doubt it! The fact that these seats do not recline that much anyway is pathetic and for anyone to complete that the person in front of them is doing this when they themselves have every right to recline their own seat (which would have them further away from the seat in front of them) is pretty silly. If this type of person is going to complain about the person in front of them then maybe they should think about getting the first seat in that section so there is nobody in front of them, else STFU!

  44. Bill – she was sitting in WT+ with 38″ seat pitch. And probably at most 6″ recline. Nobody will crush a knee at this level of comfort. Try Emirates with 30″ pitch and a recline that smacks your face. Then a problem!

    No justification whatsoever for the actions of the clown behind – just out for some “fun” I suspect.

  45. This is when the Captain comes on, have the whole crew duct tape and gag the guy in question, and have police meet the plane when it lands

  46. I had a similar situation happen to me on American Airlines. The man behind me put his knee up to the back of the seat, preventing me from being able to recline. I explained that I had a back issue & I had every right to do so. We exchanged words to no avail. I then told the flight attendants. They came over to speak with him & he gave in finally. He told them that he’s very tall & needs the leg room. They told him to book a first class ticket or sit in the bulk head section next time. At the end of the flight, the flight attendant came over to give me a bottle of wine & announced very loudly so that the other passengers could hear that she was giving it to me because he was being rude.
    He was so embarrassed, haha! No excuse for being a jerk!

  47. Tiffany, I never really comment here but had to today. Several of the examples of things you’ve dealt with ARE aggressive! No need to downplay those. Removing your headphones, touching you, and following you off the plane to the lounge and getting hostile are all aggressive. Perhaps not violent like this guy was, but definitely aggressive and definitely not ok. So sorry you’ve had to deal with that.

  48. Shit like this is why I fly as little as possible now. Can’t take the passive-aggressive rudeness, and the no-respect attitude anymore. I don’t know how the flight attendants do it. I’d rather clean porta-potties for a living then be a flight attendant.

  49. Sadly the other passengers just sat there and did nothing. He should feel lucky that I was not sitting either next to him or her. Douche

  50. I completely agree that bad behavior should not be rewarded. It is never fun being squeezed into a metal tube like that, but people need to be understanding about reclining seats. You bought the seat; you are entitled to recline it. I rarely do, for the very reason stated above, but there are nuts out there and they are going to do what crazy people do. This man tried to intimidate a woman, and in a way, he was successful. Her upgrade probably smarted, but he should have been called out by the authorities for his behavior.

    I have experienced the same behavior in male passengers — inappropriate touching, or brushing against you (think breasts), spreading out over their allotted space (read: arm hogging and leg spreading). It is ridiculous and immature. Luckily for me, I am getting older and not so hot, so it doesn’t happen much anymore, lol.

    That being said, what drives ME nuts are the passengers who not only recline the seats, but they, for some unGodly reason, push or bounce back constantly so it is forced further back, jamming your table into you. I am a small woman, but I just do not understand that crazy seat bouncing people do, like they are stretching out and the seat back is what has to give.

    Be kind and let others recline!

  51. Don’t recline and be rude yourself. His actions were wrong, but hers were wrong to and should not be tolerated.

  52. Ok, I admit it – I’m a recliner. But I do it sparingly and gradually, and if the person has a problem and asks politely or explains why it is a problem for them (height, trying to get some work done on their computer etc) I usually comply. My maxim is try to be considerate to the needs of others, as you would like them to be considerate to your needs.

    But there are two things that really piss me off. One is men (and in my experience they always are) reclining their seat rapidly. Especially on one occasion when I was leaning forward to get my satchel from under the seat. (I have the bent glasses frames to prove it). And the other is men (again) leaving their seat reclined, while they sit forward to consume their meal while I can’t even reach my food because of their recline.

    I don’t have answers, just a plea for more people to be more considerate of others.

  53. @Tiffany

    I am far more appalled by your own experiences than by this unpleasant reclining seat episode.

  54. @MG and @ Mo
    Not recline on a 12-hour flight? I agree that if it is a short flight (3 hours or less) then there is no need. But 12 hours overnight? If the guy didn’t want someone reclining in his personal space he should have paid up for a J or F class seat.

  55. I had almost the exact same problem with a man on a Royal Jordanian flight in 1997. Unfortunately, the flight attendants and my older, respectable University professor could not do anything about it. I was stuck in my seat unable to recline. Now, I’m a seasoned traveler and would love to run into him again.

  56. “Don’t be a jackwagon.”

    Words to live by. I am shocked the man wasn’t met by police on arrival. What if there hadn’t been spare business class seats available to accommodate the woman and her travel companion?

  57. Personally I think if you don’t want to involve the police, the best way to handle losers like that guy is public shaming. Nothing like social media seeing his behavior, his face and his name for a person like this to see the error in his ways.

  58. I had a similar experience of an Emirates flight from Colombo to Singapore. Chinese guy behind me started shouting in Chinese (Evidently did not speak English) but quited down when the air hostess came by and explained its my right to recline. I am surprised that there are people who do not realize that reclining is the norm. (I do put the seat up during meals so that people can eat properly).

  59. Always two sides to any story people, remember that.

    Honestly, she took photos of herself after her ‘panic attack’ who does that?

  60. The evolution of the economy seat will most likely follow that of the casual dining table; more upright and vertical. Should you desire the comfort of a lounging chair then you will need to purchase a real J or F and pay a price that reflects the space provided. The “economy extra” will disappear as more vertical economy seats will be crammed into the aft two thirds of the aircraft. Strangely enough, the type of behavior referenced in this post rarely occur on airlines that have one class service. I’m guessing that walking through J or F with a boatload of crap in tow predisposes one to feel slighted, regardless that they may have paid 10% of what the ticket cost is in the “premium” cabin. Just a matter of time, just like the smoking rule on aircraft. Don’t misinterpret that last statement as I worked for Muse Air, America’s first all non-smoking airline with leather seats in both classes. Unfortunately it was ahead of the push to stop inflight smoking (or smoking anywhere for that matter) but our passengers at the time were very loyal to the airline. There just wasn’t enough of them. This was about the time when AA started the AAdvantage Program, which, at the time, was a better marketing tool.
    Tiffany. You obviously take a lot of flights. I hope the examples of men behaving poorly is the exception rather than the rule. Personally, I don’t like to see the “feminization” of laws where offending ones “feelings” and “personal space” is just not poor manners but is illegal. What is deemed to be “unacceptable behavior” may be “acceptable” in another culture . . . common behavior in India comes to mind. However, with the exception of the physical touching, what you’ve experienced may not be “sexual harassment” but it far exceeds what any person, male or female, should have to endure. On behalf of most men, I’m sorry you’ve had to be exposed to cads like you’ve referenced.
    And to some of the other rather outlandish comments, I am a Trump supporter merely because I’m not a fan of either of the Clinton’s behavior and ethics. They all have lowered the bar for personal conduct from not only those we should hold to a high standard but to those who see themselves as “equals”. (We’re not, which appears to be a good thing).

  61. His behavior was totally out of line, but I am also quite disturbed by the commenters saying things like “He’s lucky he didn’t try it with me” or “I would’ve knocked his teeth out.” This type of attitude exacerbates the problem rather than resolves it. Compassion and decency towards others is the way to go, even when they are acting in a way that is undeserving of that compassion. If you had been traveling with the woman in question and had punched the guy, YOU are now getting the police escort off the plane.

    Remember Gandhi’s quote: “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

    Tiffany, as a man, I am ashamed by the behavior you have experienced.

  62. She has every ‘right’ to recline, as I have every ‘right’ to pass gas in my seat. The key is…I don’t because it’s rude, offensive, and evasive. The rule of thumb should be, “do my actions negatively affect those around me, or behind me?” The only time I recline is if I see the person behind me reclined. When I see that, I have no problem; Rudeness begets rudeness.

  63. @Nick E
    I agree that escalating a confrontation rather than peaceably managing it may lead to two passangers being put on the no fly list. Or perhaps the offended mean to take it out on the offender after debarkation – also not a good idea. Why not just allow airline/airport personnel to do their jobs (hopefully)?
    That said, I get the feeling that commenters aren’t as actively aggressive as they claim – or at least let’s hope so – for this is a dreadful, recurring issue, though one must stand up for their rights.

  64. the only time it is OK to deny someone reclining in economy class is during a meal service and most flight attendants ask people reclined to put their seats up then anyway so it is rarely a problem. But other than that time, you have the right to recline!

    Only two incidents I’ve had on a flight where I had someone object to me reclining my seat:

    –I was on a 767-300 in Economy Class. My girlfriend and I had the two seats on the side. I tried reclining and as soon as the seat reclined I felt it get pushed right back up. I turned around and there was a guy who must have been 7 foot 5 sitting behind me with absolutely no legroom whatsoever; the economy seat made it look like he was squatting when sitting he was so tall!
    He just laughed and said something along the lines of “oh that ain’t gonna work!”

    I didn’t feel like arguing and lecturing him on the fact he could have paid a few extra bucks to sit in an exit row or Economy Comfort. I was tired and had already been traveling for 18 hours and was able to snooze the rest of the flight with the seat upright.

    –Second time was on an A330-300, we again were seated in the two seats on the side in Economy Class. Meal service had ended and the cabin lights had dimmed for the evening as it was a red-eye.

    I reclined my seat and a few seconds later the gentleman behind me tapped my shoulder and asked if I could put my seat up as he hadn’t finished his drink. I peeked behind me and saw he had a beer can and cup on the tray that was about half full. What was strange was, my seat fully reclined didn’t come anywhere CLOSE to knocking his beer over. I wasn’t sure what point he was trying to make. Furthermore, he hadn’t even pulled the tray out towards him to give him even more clearance for his precious beer.

    Figuring he would be done soon and not wanting to argue, I obliged and put my seat up most of the way. About 30 – 40 minutes later, I decided to get up and walk around. When I came back to my seat, I decided to recline again as I was exhausted and couldn’t get comfortable without reclining. So I asked the gentleman if I could recline my seat. He told me he still wasn’t finished with his beer.

    At that point I stopped playing nice because now he was just sounding like an arrogant prick. I told him very firmly he could extend the tray towards him to give him more room and he too could also recline. He proceeded to tell me that that would inconvenience the person behind him.

    So I looked behind him, and the passenger was totally sound asleep! After pointing that out to him, I just gave him a dirty look and left my seat reclined and was at peace with myself. If he wanted to get the crew to protest me reclining my seat, I would be more than happy to have that discussion with them. But fortunately, that never happened and that’s where it ended.

    –BUT, the creepiest and weirdest incident I ever experienced on a flight didn’t involve a seat reclining. It was on a 747 in Economy Class and I was traveling solo, seated on the right aisle seat (seat “G”) in the middle row of four seats. Seat “F” next to me on my left was empty and there was a couple seated in “D” and “E”.

    After the meal service and once the cabin lights were dimmed, the gentleman in seat “E” puts the armrest up between his seat and seat “F” (the empty seat between us) and plops a pillow down up against the armrest between my seat and empty seat “F”.

    He then proceeds to lay down whilst throwing his legs out over his wife in the “D” seat and into the aisle so he could be fully stretched out! The guys pillow and head are practically in my lap at this point, not to mention pressing up against my left thigh under the armrest. My arm is fully resting on the armrest too and by virtue of how you sit and where he placed his pillow, my elbow is only inches from his face at this point!

    So I politely asked him to move and not do that as it was making me uncomfortable as he had totally invaded my personal space. He basically decided to be a dick from the get-go and said the seat was empty and he was gonna lie there like that.

    I was not having any of that so I told him very firmly to get up and said this wasn’t his seat, or my seat and it’s neutral territory and there’s no way I’m gonna have his head practically in my lap as it was making me very uncomfortable. Sized up against him, I was a considerably larger guy, so that probably helped in my case as he assessed the situation. He just looked at me, in a stunned silence and immediately scooted back over to his seat and never looked at me the rest of the flight.

    I’m not a confrontational person so this is VERY unlike me. But the guy invaded my personal space in a very awkward way and when I politely asked for him to move, he decided to be a dick right out of the gate.

    I decided afterwards to get up and go to the galley and get some water. The flight crew asked if I was ok (they must have seen it on my face that something was wrong) and I told them what happened. They seemed really surprised and basically said if he tried to do that again to get them as he couldn’t do that, basically vindicating me that I was in the right.

  65. First of all, that is highly disturbing. They did the correct thing, but I wouldn’t easily get over such an event. I also believe reclining is my right. They totally should have had police meet the guy. As for the weird stuff that has happened to you……. Well, I always follow random strangers into lounges and remove their headsets!! No, I’d probably start screaming at the lounge desk: What makes you think we’re together in ANY WAY??????? Trust me, there would be a scene. Then again, the conversation no matter how grand, never would have made it that far!!!

  66. He may be a jackass but she ain’t a saint. Sitting leisurely at home she cannot write the blog without foul language. Speaks volumes.

    On my first A380 trip on LH I eagerly selected (no charge) window seat, but a man with some sort of disability occupied my seat. Out of courtesy I took his middle seat passed on all his catering. I am glad I didn’t pay for seat selection. It would be embarrassing to force a physically challenged person out of his seat.

    He maxed out on free alcohol, different story and while deplaning I realized he was with a group sitting in other rows, never interacted with him whole flight.

  67. Since when is reclining rude? I feel like I’m living in the bizarro world reading that people don’t do it it out of consideration or suggesting that people not do it. I *expect* the person in front of me to recline, because it makes flying more comfortable. I then recline my own seat, and it is what it is. Plane dominoes. I buy Econ+ when I can to avoid being bothered by it, but regular econ sucks in a hundred ways anyway, and this is just one of them. Not being able to recline for hours on end is uncomfortable and an impendiment to sleep. I say recline and let recline. But I always do it slowly. Not a fan of the slammers.

    Btw what is wrong with you people going on about she’s too sensitive/emotional/etc. Even if you feel like there might be two sides to every story, being in very close, inescapable quarters with someone acting threateningly, be they male, female, or whatever, is unsettling. I can’t blame someone for being distressed when you’re essentially trapped next to an openly hostile and potentially unpredictable person when you least expect it.

  68. Are you insane to suggest the police should be involved in a dispute over whether someone can recline their seat?
    Obviously she should be allowed to recline her seat, but even suggesting the police should be involved in such a matter is ludicrous.
    I wonder if people realise the function of police is to protect against crime, not solve your personal disputes. As someone above rightly questioned, what is the charge going to be? Not allowing another passenger to recline their seat? Come on people. Get a grip.

  69. Yesterday, a lady was complaining every time I reclined on AC 777 PE.
    My solution was to simply leave it reclined the whole trip, PE was only half full, she could have easily moved to a seat with nobody in front. I guess she wanted to be a pain. I helped her with her carry on on the way in, of course I did not upon arrival.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *