An eyewitness report in the Flyertalk Forums about an economy class passenger who went “berserk” when the seatmate in front decided to recline after meal service is only the latest clash in the war of inches over valuable in-cabin real estate. The unrest which has its origins among a few dissidents in North America has now spread into a global uprising.
There is still some debate about whether or not it is appropriate to recline one’s seat in flight; there is very little doubt, however, that the furious reaction of a passenger on a recent British Airways flight from Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) was completely out of bounds. Fortunately, Flyertalker Strawb was on hand to offer a firsthand account of the ugly incident so the rest of us can decide for ourselves.
“Suddenly 8D goes berserk, pulls the curtain aside and starts screaming aggressively in Spanish at 7D. It turned out that 7D reclined his seat after the meal service had ended,” the British Airways frequent flyer wrote. “CSM quickly appeared and asked 8D to calm down whilst trying to diffuse a very aggressive situation. He asked 7D to move to 6D which was vacant. Just a minute or two later 8D gets up and storms into the business cabin and then proceeds to scream again (including the F word) at 6D, and slapped the back of his seat several times and with enough force to cause 6D’s spectacles to fly off. Cabin crew were quick to ask 8D to return to his seat and remained calm and professional whilst he continued screaming profanities at 6D. What I saw was a very aggressive reaction to someone who had simply reclined his seat, and is entitled to do so. Unfortunately for him he was unaware that the person behind him was already restricted with his legroom.”
According to the Flyertalk member, the captain spoke privately with the reclining-rage victim prior to landing and the enraged flyer with sore knees and anger control issues was escorted from the plane by police after the flight arrived. Perhaps surprisingly, Strawb indicated that there were no obvious signs that the irate passenger was intoxicated at the time of his meltdown.
In the U.S., disputes over reclining airplane seats have resulted in more than one passenger trading an economy class seat for a jail cell cot. During a two-week period in 2014, three separate flights in the U.S. were diverted because passengers could not agree to disagree about proper etiquette for reclining seats and the confrontations turned violent. In those cases, both the recliners and the passengers objecting were taken into custody following the unscheduled landings. By the following year, nearly every carrier in North America had introduced policies specifically barring passengers from using devices (such as the once-popular Knee Defender) which prevent the passenger seated directly in front from being able to recline their seat.
[Featured Image: Strawb]