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Semi-OT: Violent Reaction to Seat Recline - What Would You Have Done?

Semi-OT: Violent Reaction to Seat Recline - What Would You Have Done?

Old Nov 3, 09, 7:49 am
  #1  
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Semi-OT: Violent Reaction to Seat Recline - What Would You Have Done?

Hi folks - just wanted to share an experience and see how you would have reacted.

Last week I was flying on a BMI flight from a nearby European city (I know, but BA was too expensive!). Flight time was about 60 minutes.

10 minutes in, I reclined the seat about 3 inches, nowhere near fully. The man behind me started pushing the back of my seat quite hard as if trying to force it back to an upright position. I turned around, looked him in the eye, and said evenly "Please quit pushing my seat."

He then slammed his hand into the back of the seat, causing it to jerk forward but then it returned to the original reclined position. I was quite agitated at this point (and my neck was hurting) but said nothing further as I was not interested in starting a fight on an airplane.

A few minutes later after I had calmed down, I found an FA at the back of the plane and told her what had happened. I wanted her to be aware that the man had banged the back of my seat in case something worse happened. She didn't do anything, but she thanked me.

I returned to my seat to find my seat fully upright (the man had raised it in my absence). I reclined it again 3 inches. At this point, he started threatening me ("If you do that again, I'll f***ing slap you mate, you f***ing c**t.") and repeated this or similar about three times.

I bit my tongue (very difficult) because I was really not interested in getting in a fight on a plane over the Channel. I left my seat in the same position because at that point I refused to be bullied into righting my seat. had the man just asked nicely, I would have gladly complied.

The same FA from earlier then walked by. I flagged her and said that the man was now making threats. She again thanked me. The man behind then started to complain about me getting stroppy with him, etc. (completely false). She whispered to me "Would you please just right your seat for the sake of peace?" I had no problem, agreed and kept it upright until the gate.

The head FA (supervisor on BMI?) passed by my seat shortly before landing and said "I understand you've had a disturbance; would you like to come find me after the flight and tell me about it?" I agreed, found him on my way off and told him the story. He apologised to me and said that the only thing he could do was write my name in the flight report if I wanted but it would do no good. I told him not to bother as it didn't seem worth it and I really just wanted to get home. My neck was sore for a couple of days, but it was nothing major.

Personally, I feel no huge sense of guilt or remorse over reclining my seat; I understand and respect that it bothers some people, but there are adult ways to handle this situation and this violent, childish reaction was not one of them.

So my question is this: what would you have done in my place? Would you have reclined your seat at all? Would you have left it reclined? Would you have risked getting hit by this guy? His verbal abuse was so loud that people from 2/3 rows ahead were turning heads. Would I have been partially responsible had he chosen to hit me?
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Old Nov 3, 09, 7:57 am
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While I don't normally recline my seat on a short flight - you are well within your rights - that is what the recline is there for!

He sounds a complete idiot if you ask me. Although I do agree with you, I wouldn't want to get into an arguement at 37,000 ft. In that circumstance I would have asked to be moved - but I presume it was a full flight. And indeed why should you have to, as it is not your problem!
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:01 am
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I am guessing the plane was 100% full, otherwise I would have asked the crew to move me or him. I find it surprising that the crew did not focus on the passenger causing the disturbance in the first place. Given the circumstances I would write to BMI if only to obtain one of their upgrade certificates.

Having been in this situation once or twice I can tell you what my reaction would be. I would get up and address the passenger being a pain in the behind. I am however 1.95 cm and reasonably fit... I would let him take the first swing and press charges afterwards.
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:10 am
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It's always hard to predict how you react in situations like this. In similar moments of aggression, I have have several different reactions in the past: to ignore it, to raise my voice and involve others, or, and I don't recommend this, the "come over here and say that again, pal" approach (I hate the red mist, but sometimes it comes...)

Part of me says "rise above it", part of me says that, unless people make it clear that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable, it will simply continue to rise. But then you don't pick fights you can't win.

Would police involvement have been too heavy-handed? The violence, actual and threatened, would seem to me to be assault.

And incidentally, ajax, you were entirely blame-free, and reacted a lot more calmly than many people I know would have.
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:13 am
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Originally Posted by ajax View Post
He then slammed his hand into the back of the seat, causing it to jerk forward but then it returned to the original reclined position. I was quite agitated at this point (and my neck was hurting) but said nothing further as I was not interested in starting a fight on an airplane.
...
I returned to my seat to find my seat fully upright (the man had raised it in my absence). I reclined it again 3 inches. At this point, he started threatening me ("If you do that again, I'll f***ing slap you mate, you f***ing c**t.") and repeated this or similar about three times.
I would like to think I would have gone straight to the cabin crew and demanded that the police be called on arrival before passengers leave the plane. I would happily spend time giving a statement to the police to get this thug prosecuted for air rage.

A more amusing alternative would be to recline your seat fully and kneel backwards on it (seat belt on if possible) and look at him for as long as possible, perhaps whilst drinking a glass of champagne.
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:16 am
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Originally Posted by stut View Post
Would police involvement have been too heavy-handed? The violence, actual and threatened, would seem to me to be assault..
Not heavy handed at all that's what they're there for.....verbal abuse is assault.

I would have asked the cabin crew to have the police waiting at the gate. Twats like that deserve it.
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:17 am
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How about offering to switch seats with him?
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:32 am
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You certainly had every right to recline your seat. But you always get an idiot.... I think I would have been minded to make a formal complaint and ask that the police got involved.

I do agree if it was my face he'd have wanted to punch I'd have put it back upright and just left it at that, waiting for the police when I landed.

I think the only time when you need to be aware of the person behind is during a meal service, when I think it's only right until they've had their table cleared you keep your seat upright.

Sorry to hear you had to endure the idiot, maybe if you'd have flown BA :0)?????
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:36 am
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I was on an AA flight last week in front row of "F" on a 737, seat 3A, and this hidous PASSENGER behind me kept kicking the back of my seat - which was not even reclined! I turned round at glared at the PASSENGER. Lets just call her 4A, coz if I start commenting on her LOOKS and choice of FOOTWEAR and CLOTHING, it might upset the pc brigade.

So I started by turning and glaring at 4A. Did not work. More kicks and jolts and "she" tried to rest her (every so slightly large FOOTWEAR on the back of my seat.

I glared again. No good.

I went up to the galley and told the Flight AAttendants, who stared at me as if I was speaking a foreign language, and did nothing.

By this time, it was about 1am UK time and having paid for an "F" seat, I was determined not to get kicked in the back for the next 2 hours. I was also getting grumpier by the minute.

Some polite "please do not kick my seat"-s did nothing.

Out of desperation, I grabbed the AAmerican WAAy and rolled it up, turned around, reached my arm (with rolled up AA Waay) through the gap between the seat and the fuselage, and starting whacking her LEGS (which may have been big fat and hairy, but it is entirely irrelevant), which were resting on my seat back.

"Heeeey, relaaax" yelled the beast.

"I'll effing relax when you stop kicking my effing seat, you effing freak" I yelled back.

Flight AAttendants watched with amusement. Mrs Smirnoff was dying of embarrassment. I turned round, and don't really remember anything else, I was so tired. I woked up as the tyres hit the ground at Tampa.

Last edited by Smirnoff; Nov 4, 09 at 2:18 am
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:40 am
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Originally Posted by Smirnoff View Post
I was on an AA flight last week in front row of "F" on a 737, seat 3A, and this hidous being behind me kept kicking the back of my seat - which was not even reclined! I turned round at glared at the "woman with extremely short hair". Lets just call her WWESH, coz if I start commenting on her choice of hiking boots and lumberjack shirts, or her deep deep voice I will get into trouble.

So I started by turning and glaring at WWESH. Did not work. More kicks and jolts and "she" tried to rest her ubersized hiking boots on the back of my seat.

I glared again. No good.

I went up to the galley and told the Flight AAttendants, who stared at me as if I was speaking a foreign language, and did nothing.

By this time, it was about 1am UK time and having paid for an "F" seat, I was determined not to get kicked in the back for the next 2 hours. I was also getting grumpier by the minute.

Some polite "please do not kick my seat"-s did nothing.

Out of desperation, I grabbed the AAmerican WAAy and rolled it up, turned around, reached my arm (with rolled up AA Waay) through the gap between the seat and the fuselage, and starting whacking her big fat hairy hiking-person's leg, which were resting on my seat back.

"Heeeey, relaaax" yelled the beast.

"I'll effing relax when you stop kicking my effing seat, you effing freak" I yelled back.

Flight AAttendants watched with amusement. Mrs Smirnoff was dying of embarrassment. I turned round, and don't really remember anything else, I was so tired. I woked up as the tyres hit the ground at Tampa.
Exactly how I would have handled this situation too ! Well done !
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:42 am
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Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
Not heavy handed at all that's what they're there for.....verbal abuse is assault.

I would have asked the cabin crew to have the police waiting at the gate. Twats like that deserve it.
+1

However, a big to the crew member who asked you to put your seat back up "for the sake of peace" after you informed her that he had threatened you. So although the passenger was in the wrong, rude, threatening and vulgar, he got exactly what he wanted with no repercussions.
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:47 am
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I would have used my secret ninja skills. This would have ended the problem quickly.
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Old Nov 3, 09, 8:47 am
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You have every right to recline your seat.

The worst was that the FA did nothing but thank you for your comment and ask you to not recline. Frankly, if this was a case of air rage or violence/intimidaition, the crew should have met this with zero tolerance.

IMO, if the cad had struck you, you would not be responsible, and hopefully those around you would testify to that!
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Old Nov 3, 09, 9:07 am
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I don't know how things are done in the UK, but on this side of the Atlantic, you were assaulted - and it sounds like he was preparing to batter you as well.

As you discovered, you had two options - either suck it up and keep your seat upright and let the goon bully you, or option two, tell him to buzz off, recline your seat as much as you want and wait for him to batter you. As soon as that's done, you have witnesses and can file criminal charges, demanding the passenger be arrested upon arrival.

You can also file a lawsuit against the airline, citing their negligent failure to protect you from harm. If this happened in the US, you would have been within your rights to bash his head in, citing self-defense.

The obnoxious jerk behind you would have gone to jail, you could also sue him to collect damages and you would have either collected damages from the airline or settled for something quite nifty (i.e. free positive space travel in F worldwide on the airline and its alliance partners for you and your family for life).

Sometimes the cost/benefit analysis to 'take one for the team' tilts towards taking the punch and collecting the goodies afterwards.

There is no question that upon informing the crew of the passenger, they had an obligation to inform that person that one additional peep out of them would result in arrest upon arrival, and if that peep emerged, they had an obligation to forcibly re-seat them or tie them down with restraints.
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Old Nov 3, 09, 9:10 am
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I wouldn't have reclined my seat in the first place on a 60 minute flight.
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