Monday, September 1, 2014

I Say “No” to Reclining My Seat

There is not a lot of room in economy to begin with -- reclining makes it worse

There is not a lot of room in economy to begin with, and reclining makes it worse

I am a non-recliner and I am not afraid to admit it.

What does that mean? It means that when I am flying economy (and sometimes in domestic first or a similar product), I just do not recline my seat – by choice.

I get that we are all given the “right” to recline our seats (otherwise, they wouldn’t put the button there, right?), but part of me just feels it is rude – so I don’t do it. I feel guilty every time I try to recline and wonder what I am doing to the passenger behind me. Am I smashing their laptop? Am I going to knock over a drink? Or am I going to make them roll their eyes and sigh?

Am I crazy here, or are there other non-recliners out there?

ANA's economy product on the 787 has the option to slide out your bottom cushion

ANA’s economy product on the 787 has the option to slide out your bottom cushion, as opposed to reclining backwards

Some airlines make the choice easy for you – no one can recline their seats. Allegiant and Spirit are two that have disabled the ability to recline and I can’t blame them. Of course, they are looking to put as many seats into their aircraft as possible, but at least you know you will consistently have low seat pitch than have it change mid-flight.

Other new seats will not recline the back, but they will just push your bottom cushion forward, giving the sense of relaxation. I got to try these seats on one of ANA’s 787s and I have to say I both liked and disliked them.

I wasn’t a fan because it takes away your own legroom, but that is also the reason why I liked them. You are sacrificing your own leg room for your own comfort, instead of that of the person sitting behind you.

I hold less blame for recliners who upgrade to some sort of economy plus product. For many, a passenger is given some additional room, so you aren’t impeding as much on their personal space. You want the ability and space to recline; paying for it makes good sense.

I am bothered less by people reclining during a long international flight. I get having to move your body around to feel comfortable. But as silly as it sounds, I still won’t recline my seat during on international flights. It just doesn’t feel right.

No recline for you! Allegiant doesn't allow reclining

No recline for you! Allegiant doesn’t allow reclining – Photo: David Parker Brown

It just annoys me to no end when I am trying to get work done (maybe I even dropped $20 on inflight Wi-Fi) and the person in front of me reclines and takes away almost all of my ability to work on my laptop. Yes. I know I could pay to upgrade to more space or maybe lose a few inches around my waist, but when seeing that seat come down, I sometimes just want to scream!

Now, I am not one to get super angry if someone does choose to recline their seat. I will respect their decision and never interact with them or kick their seat or anything. I understand that they bought their ticket, which gave them the ability to recline their seat, but I just wish more passengers would be aware of the consequences of the seat recline.

Productivity can be hindered when reclining the seat

Productivity can be hindered when reclining the seat

Recently, a flight from Newark to Denver was diverted because of an argument dealing with seat recline. One passengers used a device called the “Knee Defender”, where you can lock the seat in front of you from reclining. The passenger who had their seat locked wasn’t too happy about the situation, a glass of water was thrown and then the flight crew decided to divert.  It should be noted that this actually occurred in United’s “Economy Plus” section, where those involved had an extra 4-5″ of pitch/legroom.

Now, I am not a fan of reclining seats, but products like the Knee Defender are much more rude. While, according to the FAA, they are legal and it is up to each airline to define their policies on using such devices, it doesn’t mean people should use them. I think I would be pretty upset if someone used that on my seat, even if I wasn’t going to even recline.

I don’t want people to get so upset about reclining seats that they get into fights, but I wonder how many actually think about the person behind them when they choose to recline. I would love to live in a world where no one reclined their seats, but am I in the minority here? How many other of you refuse to recline your seats? Or how many of you recline the second you can and don’t think twice?

   David Parker Brown – Editor-in-Chief & Founder 

David started AirlineReporter in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn't imagine living anywhere else in the world.

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