Reclining Seat Damages Laptop

July 28, 2009

in Seat Stories

My laptop nearly cracked in half on a flight from Phoenix to Saint Louis. Although the screen didn’t break per say, there is still some permanent damage as the bottom of the screen seems to be detached from the glass of the screen.

On July 28th I flew from San Francisco to Saint Louis on Midwest with a connecting flight through Phoenix. On the first flight the family in front of me opened two laptops and used them throughout the flight. During the entire flight neither of the seats in front of them reclined. I was impressed with how polite to each other the passengers on this flight were.

But hell started on the second flight from Phoenix to Saint Louis. Four 40+ corporate dudes in less than khaki outfits sat in the seats in front of me. These dudes were rude and rather stupid, as they thought they could flirt with the flight attendant and every 20-something girl on the plane. A third into the flight my wife and I opened our laptop to view photos from our recent trip to San Fran. Then suddenly the weird introvert with glasses in front of me lowers his seat with lightning speed. My laptop is pinched between the seat and the table, and I hear it crack. Seconds later, more cracks and I finally remove the laptop from certain destruction…

This hideous person didn’t seem to notice and pretended that nothing had happened. However, when the plane landed, he quickly packed his bags and ran away, afraid that I might confront him about the laptop damage. What a rat… I read another post about a cracked laptop on a flight to Saint Louis. Maybe it’s a culture thing…some people see you opening your laptop, maybe see you as a 20-something yuppie of some kind and decide to destroy your property…very wicked…

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Hugh July 29, 2009 at 12:54 am

Ummm, did you mention the issue to the person in front of you? Sounds like no. I fail to see how you can blame him when you gave him no opportunity to remedy the situation. Rather than rushing to post here, you should have mentioned it to the person.


Jodi July 29, 2009 at 6:52 am

I agree with Hugh. You didn’t confront him, which I would have done as soon as he reclined – I would have at least asked him to please sit up long enough for me to get my laptop from the tray. I have been on planes and unless the person behind you is rather rough or loud when they lower the tray, sometimes you have no idea the tray is down.

And if I had an expensive piece of equipment damaged, I’d definitely confront the person who did the damage. If nothing else you’d at least give him a chance to apologize. Who knows, he might have offered to help with the repair costs. As for rushing off the plane – well he may have had a connecting flight that he had to make that was about to leave.


Hugh July 29, 2009 at 8:51 am

100% in agreement Jodi…all very good points.


GottaLoveIt July 29, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Now you know better than to have your laptop between you and the seat in front of you.


SAW July 29, 2009 at 6:24 pm

umm… or maybe… you should keep your laptop away from the ridge in the seatback – I learned that from just watching before I even HAD a laptop to take on a plane…

I'm shocked at how many people don't notice this and protect themselves. Gotta be honest, since it's ok to recline seats, and you can't tell someone NOT to, then protecting yourself from the fallout of a reclining seat is YOUR responsibility.

Don't think the guy in front of you is even the slightest bit responsible for the damage.


Hugh July 31, 2009 at 12:47 am

Great points SAW. I agree completely. Had I been the one in the seat which reclined, I would have apologized if confronted and made aware of it, but would feel no responsibility to make amends for the damage. It is not their responsibility, but most people would feel bad that it happened.


SAW July 31, 2009 at 1:45 am

Well… if it was me, I'd feel bad that it happened. BUT… if I were a bit more jaded than I already am (is that possible?) I might think differently – like – "don't feel bad at all – if you're stupid enough to get caught like that then you deserve to have your screen snapped". So I'm not really surprised the "snap-ee" walked away with no apologies.


Zombie December 15, 2015 at 3:45 pm

"I am sorry you put your laptop in a confined place where someone's normal act of reclining a seat could cause damage."


Svet July 31, 2009 at 5:58 am

Are SAW and Hugh's comments for real? From these and other comments I sense that SAW and Hugh represent the moral police, business as usual it's every passenger's fault approach. Maybe they are a lobby function funded by the airline industry.


GottaLoveIt July 31, 2009 at 6:30 am

This isn't a matter of airline policy. Seats recline, and depending on what's behind them, they can break stuff. There's no way around it other than to be smart and not put things that are likely to break in places like that. You don't put a ring in a toilet and then complain when someone shits on it.


SAW July 31, 2009 at 6:38 pm

Svet… No… I travel a LOT, and I think it's common sense. "Gotta" has summed it up in a nutshell.


Atari August 12, 2009 at 9:13 pm

I will conjoin opinion with Svet.

If a woman gets raped while advertising her goods (dressing immodestly) in a rough neighborhood, then while the fault is partially on her, the rapists are not entirely impervious to blame.

Similarly, if a guy opens his laptop and the person before him drops his reclining seat in an unconscionably harsh manner, damaging the computer with an audible cracking noise, then while the fault may partially be upon the shoulders of the laptop bearer, it must also be shared by the one who damaged the property and did nothing to rectify his actions. (Accidental or intentional, may they be)

I believe that we are all a bit too jaded, as SAW has said, and we cannot muster the enthusiasm to do more than heft all of the blame upon a single person without much consideration.

This is one of those situations, I think, wherein we really need to avoid saying anything at all, but we speak, instead, and let our weariness of the world at large overtake our transcriptions.


Zombie December 15, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Reclining a seat is now equated to rape here. Perspective.


Tom November 26, 2009 at 7:39 am

This is why you should always have the incline of the labtop monitor slighty forward. This way instead of being stuck between a hammer and anvil, it would mostly just close the montor instead of cracking.

And the recliner person is totally not at fault, is he supposed to check behind him before he reclines? No.

And it’s highly doubtful the guy even noticed this and mostly ran for a transit or to be first one out of the plane.


Joey April 4, 2010 at 2:45 pm

I live in St. Louis, but never break laptops or fly Midwest (I fly Southwest or Frontier, and occasionally Delta).


Stacy September 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Yes, you must angle your laptop so that if the person in front of you reclines quickly, it won't damage your machine. Unfortunately, most people who fly in coach either (1) don't fly enough to understand the problem, or (2) feel entitled to every inch they have paid for. Don't go looking to them for decent manners. Take care of you and yours first.


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