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Does Reclining Your Seat Make You a Jerk?

Does Reclining Your Seat Make You a Jerk?
Ryan Boyd

In a recent post to CBS News, Luke Burbank related an experience in which a very tall passenger sitting in front of him on the flight reclined his seat all the way, leading to an uncomfortable and frustrating flight.

“I say it’s time for a national movement. I know,¬†another one. But just hear me out: if we all agree not to lean our seats back, we can make the world (at least the world of air travel) a slightly better place,” writes Burbank.

To read more on this story, go to CBS News.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (11)


  1. htb

    July 9, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    I’m tired of these stupid seat recline discussions. Unless lunch is being served you’ll just have to live with it.

  2. akl_traveller

    July 9, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    On short haul: yes. On medium haul during the day: yes.

    On long haul: no, but be a gentleman about it and warn the people behind you.

  3. aseljuki

    July 10, 2018 at 6:06 am

    Mr. Burbank himself is a jerk. When you pay for your seat, you get the right to recline fully except during takeoff and landing.

  4. Cedar Jet

    July 10, 2018 at 6:50 am

    There are 2/3 classes above economy class…..people in economy need to understand its the cheapest class of travel…not expect hand towels and oodles of space. A passenger has every right to fully recline..thats why its an inbuilt feature as is the IFE – there to use! If you don’t like it pay for an exit row, premium economy or Business Class. Getting tired of people picking at straws when they have payed the absolute cheapest price for the in the cheapest class of travel.

  5. Occupationalhazard

    July 10, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Answer: No, it does not.

    That said, courtesy should be exercised when reclining, i.e. not during mealtimes and with regard to whether or not the person behind might be using the tray table for work.

    Anyone who is really averse to the person in front reclining might consider booking a bulkhead seat.

  6. ioto1902

    July 10, 2018 at 10:33 am

    How about asking airlines to stop reducing pitch ?

  7. k5xs

    July 10, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Airlines have the option of having seats that do not recline. That’s a decision ULCCs Spirit and Allegiant have made. And it’s one of the many reasons I don’t fly them.

    My seat is equipped with recline. I’m getting old, and my back does a lot better on a long flight when I can lean back even a little bit.

  8. timesnaps

    July 10, 2018 at 6:41 pm

    Mr. Burbank might want to fly exlusively on no frill airlines, where there is a fixed seat. Or better still fly those disaster seats Cathay Pacfici use to have, Hardshell back, and a slide forward, no lumbar support bit of textile as back. Plus the resulting visit to the physio after arrival.

    The seats go back, cause they designed to do so. And yes, be nice and bring it forward it the person behind you needs to eat, attend to a toddler, get in and out.

    Perhaps much more important – I would suggest people behind you stop to punch, push, wobble and fiddle your seat!

  9. akl_traveller

    July 11, 2018 at 12:39 am

    People using the “have a right to” argument are the same people who push in front at queues because “there’s no law against it” or berate waiters for “getting it all wrong” or leave weight plates on the wrong branch at the gym because “it’s a free world.”

    Just because you *can* doesn’t mean you *should*.

  10. SandmanDFW

    July 13, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Calm down, aki_traveller.

    If the seat reclines, then you have the right to recline it. Doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk about it and just suddenly lean back all the way, nor does it mean the person behind you has the right to whine and moan about it the entire flight or use some other antisocial means to achieve some juvenile retribution.

    The seats recline. So be it. If you don’t want a seat that reclines into yours, book a bulkhead or an exit seat and stop kvetching. And your argument “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” rings quite hollow considering you are arguing for people to not use the recline on the seat when in fact it has been bought and paid for.


  11. pt flyer

    July 16, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    I had an unfortunate experience with the flyer in front of me reclining the entire 9 hour flight I was on recently. I didn’t say anything, because he did have the right to recline. However, when I looked ahead and saw that although the seat was reclined and hitting my knees, he was leaning forward in his seat to enjoy his inflight entertainment….
    I confess to a slow burn and an impulse to kick his seat. I contained myself and had to be satisfied with picturing it in my mind.

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