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How many inches of leg room does a reclined seat take?

How many inches of leg room does a reclined seat take?

Old Sep 15, 18, 1:21 pm
  #1  
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How many inches of leg room does a reclined seat take?

I'm in a debate in a forum for my law school property class regarding airline leg room and who has the property right to the space taken when a seat is reclined. I'm curious how much space that actually is and I don't have a flight for a few weeks to do a measurement. I've found numbers online which speak to the distance taken by the top of the seat but that's going to be different than the amount taken where the knees are. Anyone on a flight with a tape measure/ruler or will be on one in the next day or so who can tell me? Or know rough numbers already?

I don't intend for this to start another debate about the etiquette of reclining which I realize hotly debated.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 1:46 pm
  #2  
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It's actually a relatively easy math problem. One knows the pitch and height of the seat.
All then one needs is where the pitch begins to complete the triangle and calculate each point.

Then determine the lost leg room which will vary the higher one goes on the seat.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 1:50 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by Coskigirl View Post
I'm in a debate in a forum for my law school property class regarding airline leg room and who has the property right to the space taken when a seat is reclined. I'm curious how much space that actually is and I don't have a flight for a few weeks to do a measurement. I've found numbers online which speak to the distance taken by the top of the seat but that's going to be different than the amount taken where the knees are. Anyone on a flight with a tape measure/ruler or will be on one in the next day or so who can tell me? Or know rough numbers already?

I don't intend for this to start another debate about the etiquette of reclining which I realize hotly debated.
My take is reclining seats, at least the traditional ones where the seats recline back, don’t change leg room or even knee room. Seats recline back into space in front of your chest and above your knees when seated. That does make it feel more crowded and like there’s less space, for sure, but in terms of leg or knee room, there’s little if any effect.

As for how much the recline is, I think the seats go back ~3 inches, some in E+ may go back as much as 5” (I think at one point, the extra recline was marketed as an E+ benefit, but IIRC, PMUA aircraft were the same recline and it was only the newly installed E+ seats in PMCO aircraft after the merger that ever had more recline than regular economy). But IME, the recline on seats on US carriers is far less than on foreign carriers, particularly Asian carriers. I know TG and SQ in particular, I’ve seen folks able to recline back way farther than a US-based carrier recline has ever allowed. I remember one flight in particular on TG where it felt like the seat in front of me was practically in my lap the whole flight.

Many newer seats have ‘recline’ by sliding the seat forward vs. the back actually reclining - and this does take up legroom, for sure. I remember he new IOJ configuration of a ANA 777 I took in 2012, and felt like there was barely any legroom left when ‘reclined’

As for whose space it actually is, my perspective is that seats should remain upright during meal service, but otherwise, I don’t care about folks reclining, so long as they do so gently and don’t abruptly go and jolt from upright to full recline. I always take care to gently and slowly recline the seat so as not to make it a big deal and not spook the person behind me. But aside from during a meal service, I have no issues taking advantage of the recline, just like the person behind me has the full right to recline as well.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 1:55 pm
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The CofC does not enumerate any seating rights (aside from getting transportation from A to B). It is not a lease, and the property is that of the airline. I would look at it more comparable to being an invitee on a property. It is the airline's property and they decide how to allocate seating space and thus far the right to recline/not recline has not been touched in the CofC. The closest it gets is that pax do not have a right to alter the seat function in anyway with devices, etc.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 2:07 pm
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Originally Posted by emcampbe View Post
My take is reclining seats, at least the traditional ones where the seats recline back, don’t change leg room or even knee room.
Sorry, but that's ridiculous. I have had my knees hit when the person in front of me reclined. The hinge is below knee level; it's physically impossible for there to be no impact on knee room.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 2:41 pm
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I think the actual discussion should center around whether or not a certain amount of useable legroom is actually promised. Airlines advertise pitch, not (for example) “you will have 31” of guaranteed horizontal space at knee level” (or whatever). If it is determined the airline makes such a promise, then measured evidence to the contrary could be used 1) to prove the airline does not keep the promise and 2) provide some basis for damages.

Let’s see (34-33)/34x$80 actual damages for a 1” loss at knee due to passenger in front of you reclining. Plus one million dollars punitive/emotional damages.

You’ll have to sue yourself if the loss at knee level is caused by your own actions with a seat pan that slides forward when you yourself recline.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 2:42 pm
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Sorry, but that's ridiculous. I have had my knees hit when the person in front of me reclined. The hinge is below knee level; it's physically impossible for there to be no impact on knee room.
Your experience mirrors mine, but in theory whether the hinge is above or below your knees depends on your leg length.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 2:45 pm
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There is not one answer here -- there are at least 4 or more.

Are we talking about the change when I recline my seat or when the individual in front of me reclines?

Are we talking about a pivot / hinged seat back or slider seat?
Note on the pivot / hinged seat, the among of recline varies across the fleet and the height location of the pivot / hinge also varies.

Also in many aircraft E+ has more recline than does E--

so at a minimum there are 4 answers and in reality, there are more than 4. Probably at least 2 more and maybe 4 or 6 more.

And this assumes we are only discussing economy.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 3:52 pm
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From a practical point of view, your property professor would be silly to entertain that discussion... there's no property interest at issue in the transaction, and the entire agreement between the airline and the passenger is embodied in the CoC. Probably a more fruitful subject to talk about in a contracts class.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 5:08 pm
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Silly or not, it was his discussion prompt so we as students are not off on a tangent. Here's the link for the article that he asked us to read about it. This particular professor is the Dean of the school. Also, just so you don't think I'm an inexperienced 24 year old fresh out of undergrad, the program is a professional part-time program that's being offered as a hybrid online and in-person program. Because of this we have a period of 2 weeks where we don't see each other or him in-person and our work is all online line via reading, discussion forums, and video conferencing for office hours and sessions with our TAs to discuss material further.

http://evonomics.com/resolve-fights-...ral-economics/

Anyhow, one person said it is an absolute known social contract that one does NOT recline seats in economy class. I tend not to on short flights or just a small amount but I know that many people do. Frankly, I only get irritated when they slam them back or forward with such force that they risk breaking laptops and spilling drinks. If my legs were long enough then I can see that slam back also banging knees but I don't personally have that issue. My feel is that while many people believe that one shouldn't recline it isn't a known social contract.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and input. I just wanted a sanity check on how much space we are talking about as I think sometimes people exaggerate.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 5:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Coskigirl View Post
Anyhow, one person said it is an absolute known social contract that one does NOT recline seats in economy class. I tend not to on short flights or just a small amount but I know that many people do. Frankly, I only get irritated when they slam them back or forward with such force that they risk breaking laptops and spilling drinks. If my legs were long enough then I can see that slam back also banging knees but I don't personally have that issue. My feel is that while many people believe that one shouldn't recline it isn't a known social contract.
Is this the same social contract that you don't take the empty urinal if it is next to someone else using a urinal? If it's there and available to use, people are entitled to use it, else it wouldn't have been made available. The same applies for the recline function. There are rows that can't recline, choose a seat behind those.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 7:27 pm
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I have ended up with bruises on my knees after the seat in front of me was reclined back into them. I have just started paying for seats with extra legroom....
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Old Sep 15, 18, 7:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Lux Flyer View Post
Is this the same social contract that you don't take the empty urinal if it is next to someone else using a urinal? If it's there and available to use, people are entitled to use it, else it wouldn't have been made available. The same applies for the recline function. There are rows that can't recline, choose a seat behind those.
I tend to agree. Just because the person wants to believe that everyone agrees with them doesn't mean it's a social contract. Of course, this person also seems to be unable to spell my name correctly. If it weren't a class discussion I'd respond with some sort of comment that it's also a social contract that we should spell a person's name correctly when responding to a post that shows the name but it's not appropriate for the setting.

As for bruised knees, I can see that given the force some people chose to use when they slam their seat back. It's just obnoxious.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 8:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Coskigirl View Post
Silly or not, it was his discussion prompt so we as students are not off on a tangent. Here's the link for the article that he asked us to read about it. This particular professor is the Dean of the school. Also, just so you don't think I'm an inexperienced 24 year old fresh out of undergrad, the program is a professional part-time program that's being offered as a hybrid online and in-person program. Because of this we have a period of 2 weeks where we don't see each other or him in-person and our work is all online line via reading, discussion forums, and video conferencing for office hours and sessions with our TAs to discuss material further.

How to Resolve Fights over Reclining Airplane Seats: Use Behavioral Economics - Evonomics

Anyhow, one person said it is an absolute known social contract that one does NOT recline seats in economy class. I tend not to on short flights or just a small amount but I know that many people do. Frankly, I only get irritated when they slam them back or forward with such force that they risk breaking laptops and spilling drinks. If my legs were long enough then I can see that slam back also banging knees but I don't personally have that issue. My feel is that while many people believe that one shouldn't recline it isn't a known social contract.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts and input. I just wanted a sanity check on how much space we are talking about as I think sometimes people exaggerate.
As other have said, in no way is it a legal issue, since there is no promise as to recline/not recline, and the airlines (at least some of them) actually publish the recline figures. For example, on the sUA 763 E+ has 5" of recline, E- has 4" of recline. https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...R/default.aspx. The new "polarized" version has 4" recline in both E+ and E-

in turn the 737-900ER/737Max9 has 3" of recline in E+ and 2" in E- https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...0/default.aspx

As to the social convention, there is none that I know about. People recline their seats, and short of some kid bouncing on the seat, there is no real right that the person has behind you to complain. I have seen people try to claim you should not recline their seat, but IMHO it's a really unfair power play, one that I am comfortable turning down if the tone is not right.... But then I'm a big guy, I've heard it asked in a rather threatening way to women/kids before... Sad...
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Old Sep 16, 18, 12:18 am
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Originally Posted by spin88 View Post
Aand the airlines (at least some of them) actually publish the recline figures. For example, on the sUA 763 E+ has 5" of recline, E- has 4" of recline. https://www.united.com/web/en-US/con...R/default.aspx. The new "polarized" version has 4" recline in both E+ and E-

in turn the 737-900ER/737Max9 has 3" of recline in E+ and 2" in E-
Those are all presumably measured at the top of the seatback. Seatguru lists the recline angles for UA E-/E+ as 4 and 5 degrees on the 3-class 763, and . If you take the pivot as being at the seat pan and assume knees are about 6" up, you lose about a half-inch or less if the seat in front of you reclines. If you're in one of the newer seats that slides the seat pan forward, you lose more than that from your own space. They don't list the angles for all the 739s, but it looks like 3 and 5 degrees for E-/E+ for at least some of them.

And I've heard of this social contract a few times, but it's hardly universally agreed to. I recline my seat and I don't complain when others do as well. If you're tall and I'm going to crunch your knees I'll refrain.
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