Crushed Legs Ruins Rest

October 5, 2007

in Seat Stories

I boarded a plane and sat in my seat in second class. Wanting to relax from a very long day, I put my seat in a reclining position. Suddenly the man behind me let out a blood-curdling scream – MY LEGS! MY LEGS! GET OFF MY LEGS! All eyes in the cabin were on me. I felt like I committed a crime. An attendant ran over to see what happened. The guy behind me, now nursing his legs, said his legs were too long for the seat in front of him to be reclined. The attendant told him that I had the right to recline the seat. The guy told her that he wanted to be moved to where there’s more leg room. I suspect that his “injury” was a ruse to try to get into first class. He ended up staying in the same seat, and I ended up sitting in my seat in an upwards position, unable to get much needed rest.

Signed, New York John

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Zimminger July 5, 2008 at 10:01 pm

I don't want to get into this argument, since I'm 6' tall. I'm also slender, so at least I only offend in one dimension.

Since this seems to be an issue and some people want to sleep, may I point out that you don't actually have to recline to sleep. If you know ahead of time that you are going to need sleep on a flight, you should provide for it. A foam neck brace is a cheap, light way to do so. For ten or fifteen dollars, you can fall asleep completely upright while it cradles your head.


Doc October 11, 2008 at 6:45 am

I'm a shade over 6'5" and weigh 20 pounds less than my playing weight of 245#s. With an inseam of 36", I cannot sit in the standard seats, if the passenger in front of me reclines his seat. Simply put, I don't fit. We should note that taller passengers are much more susceptible to forming blood clots in their legs during flights where the leg room is restrained. This is, and has been, proven to be a deadly combination. Remember, we didn't ask to be tall, so why punish us. The airlines define the average passenger to be 5'9" and 155#s. Why? It allows them to pack more human sardines into their oily flying tins. Read $$$$. The foldout tables don't work for my height of the species, they are also the culprit, coming down on the top of my knee caps, functionally locking my legs into a painful position when the seat in front is reclined. The trays should be removable. I try to fly the exit row, and often arrive early to secure these seats. When they are full, I can't help but judge the height (usually short) of those sitting in these seats. You should have to be taller than Mickey, like in DisneyLand, if you want to sit there. A picture of a 6'2" Mickey, should stand just outside the Exit rows, if you don't measure up, sit elsewhere. The wings should have seats for those who want to lay their seat in my lap. I'm considering buying a Black & Decker drill, and I'm going to work on the teeth, sans Novacaine, of the next person taking advantage of my limited space. Thanks for letting me vent on this, simply put, ridiculous situation. We don't want to be a pain, or be in pain. Doc M.D.


mj November 22, 2008 at 3:07 pm

you did not ask to be tall, but you need to face the fact that you are, and other people should not suffer as a result. You can't go into a clothes shop and demand to get an XXL size for the same price as the L, M or S if these are priced lower is they usually are. If they are priced the same, so be it, but others cannot pay for your height. You need to deal with it. You can confine yourself to airlines that have large seat distances between seats (you can find that out at seat guru) or travel business class. Otherwise you have to curl up as tightly as you can when the passenger in front of you reclines his seat.


Dude March 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

I love it when people on here say, "If you don't like it, then get a ticket up in first class." Yeah, as if I'm sitting in coach on a whim, or because I didn't particularly care for the wine being served on that flight.

That said, I'm 6'-4" and hate it when people in front of me recline. But it does happen, life goes on, and there are ways to sit without having your knees pressed into the seat in front of you. Move your bag out from under the seat in front of you, and put your feet under there. Works for me…

Other than that, just realize when you book a coach seat that life will be a special kind of suck for the duration of the flight.


TLT April 2, 2009 at 9:52 am

Doc, I like your suggestion about measuring, but perhaps it could be from waist to toe. I'm not all that tall, but very short waisted/long legged and am miserable on most flights. I pay extra for the exit row whenever possible.


TC April 2, 2009 at 10:35 am

Oh man – this is amazing! If you are too tall to fit comfortably in coach, fork out the extra cash for first class!! Otherwise, pull up your skirt and deal with the cramped space. You obviously know ahead of time what coach is like – you know the seats recline – you know you don't fit because you are tall! No one else is going to purposely make themselves uncomfortable for you and you should not expect that of someone else. A neck brace?? Seriously???


Jay April 2, 2009 at 10:55 am

I hate it when someone reclines back into me. I never even use my reclining seat. They ought to stop making seats that recline.


Peter April 2, 2009 at 11:21 am

I agree thats its quite possible to rest in an unreclined seat – after all the row in front of the exit HAS to make it work. My legs are squashed by a recliner in front of me, I can't read or use a computer, and some people's dandruff comes raining down on whatever food. I regularly fly 15 1/2 hour routes to S Africa. Is it rude of me to hope that someone has the decency to not inflict pain on my leg? If so, I hope I am similarly forgiven for trying to inflict interuption to their sleep patterns. John, you and I need to talk.


Please April 2, 2009 at 11:51 am

I like to recline to sit, rest, or sleep. I may make an adjustment for the person behind me, just as I hope he/she will make an adjustment for me. For all those who say "you don't have to recline," what about those of us who find more comfort in reclining due to a chronic back condition which required surgery and may (being chronic) require surgery again. There is NO WAY I will sit on an hours long flight unreclined. I may not recline all the way, but I will recline. For those concerned about blood clots in the legs, it's always recommended that you stand and stretch, and walk the aisle a bit.

It's called compromising. We can't all afford first or business class, but we can all try to accomodate each other. It's not simply "all or nothing" on either side.


Flyer April 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm

If you feel the need to tell us you are Doc M.D (redundant much), then use those big bucks and get a 1st class ticket. Def. feel for you much more than a portly person, who has power of their situation, but I'm not going to feel bad for reclining on you, or sitting in the exit row. That said, if exit rows were for tall people, and if booking an exit row included a question/statement about height, I would happily abide and let taller people sit there. Again, if a statement were made that those who sit in front of people over a certain height are obliged to stay upright, I would be irked, but I would do it. However, this is not the case, as the world does not revolve around you, so you'll just have to keep giving me the stink eye.


Anonymous April 2, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I LOL'd having read the story above this one. Posted in the same month/year too but from opposite perspectives.


ryan McDonald April 2, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Sorry guy, I'm gonna side with the gentleman behind you. I am 6'3 with a 40 inch inseam and this is a constant problem. I will ardently defend my right to space and be free of pain and blood clots on a 5 hour flight. There should be some compromise, but that does not involve you fully reclining your seat into my knees.


ryan McDonald April 2, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Sorry guy, I'm gonna side with the gentleman behind you. I am 6'3 with a 40 inch inseam and this is a constant problem. I will ardently defend my right to space and be free of pain and blood clots on a 5 hour flight. There should be some compromise, but that does not involve you fully reclining your seat into my knees.. I'm not gonna lose circulation in my legs because small-fry who already has ample leg room wants to put his seat back.


anonymous April 2, 2009 at 4:47 pm

If you are way outside of average, i.e. really short, tall, fat, skinny, then YOU should be the one who makes special arrangements to accomodate your issue. Don't bitch because the person in front of you reclines because YOUR legs are too long. Not their problem. Sounds like you are aware of this and need to upgrade to a larger seat before you fly.

This does not excuse the people who recline from being pricks about it. Do you really have to recline the whole way? Do you need to stay reclined the whole flight? Can you check behind you to see who is back there before you blindly slam the seat back?

Two sides to this one. First, just because you are a giant does not mean everyone else automatically has to adjust to you. Second, use common sense and courtesy when reclining your seat. Space is tight.


Collin April 2, 2009 at 6:44 pm

I am a large gentleman as well (6'5", 290 lbs).

Why is it someone's fault when they utilize what they paid for, by reclining their seat??

It's not that persons' fault – it's the airline's fault!!

I don't like getting crushed either, but I am not going to call someone *rude* because they use what they paid for!


Vince April 2, 2009 at 6:50 pm

I love Doc's suggestion. If you aren't such and such a height you shouldn't sit in the exit rows. I'm 5'5" AND I DEMAND THAT THE GROCERY STORES STOP STOCKING ITEMS I WANT ON THE TOP SHELF! Yeah, that's reasonable. Poor doc doesn't want to shell out the bucks for first. I never asked to be short either but I like the exit rows when they pop up. And if the airline charges me a fee for them on check in (which some do now)I pay for them. You know why? Because I'm not a cheap prick like you "Doctor".


Linda April 2, 2009 at 7:13 pm

For all the people who are focused on the title Doctor…

I think the "Doc MD" title was just a play on words. Having a person recline so far that you "can see their teeth" is a similar situation to when a dentist reclines your chair.

Thus, references to Novocaine and teeth drilling…


Jessica April 3, 2009 at 8:14 am

How about this for compromise: you long-legged individuals can switch seats with me (if I find your seat just as nice as mine) and then you sit in upright position and I will recline in your seat. That's as much compromising as I'd be willing to do. I have to recline because otherwise I get back pains and your legs are less important to me than my own back, sorry.


Lauren April 5, 2009 at 2:06 pm

I'm a five foot tall female. I'm slightly over 100 pounds, and I fly extremely frequently – generally internationally, very rarely business or first class.

Anyway, point of that is – I fit pretty well into airline seats (not that I can EVER reach the overhead bins, but that's neither here nor there) – and yet, I have never once reclined my seat if there was a passenger in the seat behind mine. It's just rude. Airline seats are tiny; reclining should not be a right; I think you're abominably ill-mannered if you choose to put your seat back.

Now, obviously, those of you who choose to recline anyway – you clearly won't care what I think, and I'm ok with that. But it's extraordinarily immature and unncessary. Sleep with your seat up. And grow up.


TravMD April 7, 2009 at 8:56 am


Try flying 15,000 miles every 5 weeks and then see if you're still the same sanctimonious twat about reclining a seat being "rude".


Don't take trol April 8, 2009 at 10:09 am

Everyone, please don't take the troll bait from Jenkins. Just wanted to put that one out early before a 1000 comments were posted.


Curtis April 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

jenkins, soooo when do you turn 13 ?


funfish April 9, 2009 at 5:34 pm

You deserved to be humiliated in such a way, anyone who would recline their seat has no manners.



LoveIt! April 10, 2010 at 9:53 pm

I always recline. It's my right to recline. I can sleep much better is I recline. Sometimes my back is killing me and sometimes I just feel the need for the little bit of extra space it gives me. Don't like it? Pay for my ticket and I won't recline.


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