To Recline The Seat, or To Not Recline The Seat

I’ve been on quite a few plane rides in my life (humble brag) and only on a handful have I ever felt the need to recline my seat. Most often it was because the person in front of me reclined theirs and created a sort of domino effect behind them. I understand everyone seated in coach/economy class on planes is uncomfortable. But what is the answer to the dreaded question: Should you recline your seat on an airplane?

On Twitter I’ve seen a rise in support for the negative option.

Tweet from Travis McElroy: "If you recline your seat on the airplane during take off and don't raise it back for 3 HOURS until you raise it during landing, you are a monster"

On other travel blogs I’ve seen reclining a seat as a big no-no for plane etiquette. The action listed up there with kicking the back of the seat, and throwing up outside the little sick bag.

But the question of reclining your seat isn’t completely based on etiquette is it, but rather, should your comfort come before others?

Everyone has the option to recline their seat. So, did the airlines put this feature into their planes as an experiment–to see how humanity reacted to even more of their personal space being compromised? Because asking the person in front of you to not recline their seat feels like asking them to not take advantage of a clearly comfortable feature. Or is it meant as a barometer for how long a person can last without begging the person in front of them to move back up because their knees are all but dissolved?

The last plane I was on, the woman sitting in front of me reclined her seat when she was ready to sleep, and because I’m short I didn’t mind. I understood her predicament. It was an 8+ hour flight, so I didn’t let it get to me. But, next to me was my friend Sheila and the man in front of her reclined his seat just because. I know he wasn’t sleeping because I had a clear view of he and his book. His use of the reclined option did impede Sheila’s comfort. The little TV and headrest just about slammed into her forehead. I had to gently tap him on the shoulder and ask him to sit back up when dinner came around or else Sheila would have turned into a T-Rex as she tried to not elbow me, but also get the food safely to her mouth.

In my heart of hearts, I believe seat reclining to be evil. Basically anything you do on an airplane that is solely for you is a big no-no in my book (such as: listening to music without headphones, standing in the aisle the whole time, pushing the hostess button every five minutes because you need something). The real evil behind seat reclining is that it gives you just the tiniest glimpse into what you could have had on the plane if you were sat in first class, and often severely limits the already strained movement of the person behind you. But, on the other hand, why shouldn’t someone take advantage of the options given to them? I guess the answer to the question depends on the situation, but still, reclining your seat for the whole journey is a pretty shit move.

What do you think? Should people be allowed to recline their seats on airplanes? Is it as horrible as kicking the back of the seat or asking to go to the bathroom 400 times in a two hour trip? What is the worst thing that’s ever happened to you on an airplane? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy 2018 everyone! I don’t really have any resolutions this year, well I have plans but they won’t end at the end of 2018. They’re more like life plans than New Year’s Resolutions, but anyway. I hope you had a good enough 2017, and that this year isn’t complete shit.

Loving Reminder: I have a travel/writing Instagram that you can follow for daily updates on my life and travels! (Instagram: LittleSliceofBri)

Thanks for Reading!

10 Comments on “To Recline The Seat, or To Not Recline The Seat

  1. The truly sad thing is that airlines have caused this problem by squeezing more rows into planes. It is impossible to use your in-seat entertainment or even tray table if the person in front of you reclines.

    We benefit from lower prices with these extra rows, but I, for one, gladly pay extra to sit in premium economy which offers more room and fewer problems with reclining.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, agreed! And it all depends on the airline as to how much room you really will have. It’s amazing the differences you can find even with similarly priced airlines.


  2. I never do it because I know how uncomfortable it is when the person in front does it! Even though I want to- I think it’s more important to be considerate of others. After all, everyone is in the same uncomfortable situation together! Great topic 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Same here! I try not to, but I understand reclining when the person in front of me does. Because then I feel like they’re laying on top of me, and the only way to escape that is to recline too. Thanks for commenting!


  3. What an interesting dilemma! I have back issues and to have to sit straight up the entire time would be very difficult for me. The airlines are at fault for making profit over comfort for its travelers. Bless you for taking in others comfort over you own. When you get older, it is harder to think that way. Put he oxygen mask on yourself first becomes a priority.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for bringing this up! I had completely overlooked the access and comfort issues for those with medical needs. It puts even more of this into perspective. You never know what other people may need to keep themselves healthy during a flight. So, maybe a little discomfort for yourself could save another person a trip to the doctor after the flight. Thank you for you comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have chronic back pain and also bloat up like a stuck pig on long-haul flights. For me, reclining my seat gives me the tiniest relief to both these pains. I always sit up for meals though and make sure the person behind me has had their food tray removed before re-reclining.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I never recline my seat. If someone in front of me reclines immediately and for the whole journey, I have been know to grab their seat, plus accompanying exaggerated wobbling, to assist myself when leaving my seat. I wouldn’t need to do this if I had those few extra cm of room to manoeuvre.

    Liked by 1 person

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