Near Fight Over Reclining Seat

November 29, 2009

in Seat Stories

We were on the last leg of a long, international flight. We board the plane, and when we get to our seats, we find that the rows behind us and in front of us are occupied by some very loud individuals. We weren’t too concerned, as this was the last leg of our trip and the flight was only a few hours long. The plane takes off and eventually we reach altitude and everyone starts to recline their seats to get a little rest. Like everyone else, I recline my seat back, but am met with someone hitting the back of my seat when I do. I turn around and see one member from this loud group yelling at me in Italian. Based on the behavior of this gentleman and his group, it became clear that they had never flown before. I simply pointed to everyone else who had their seats reclined to show that this is what happens while flying and reclined my seat again. The Italian guy got up at this point and, in the process, elbowed the guy sitting next to me. There was some yelling in various languages and I realized then that this was going to be a long flight.

Italian guy returned and immediately hit my seat again. This time, the guy sitting next to me came to my defense and told the Italian guy that people were allowed to recline seats. I thought for sure this would settle down the Italian guy but the next time I reclined my seat, it was met with a blow so forceful that it pushed my face into the seat in front of me. I panicked for a moment because I thought my glasses were broken. Meanwhile, the guy sitting next to me starts screaming at the Italian guy. They are both in the aisle and look as though they are going to start fighting. I push for the call button and finally a flight attendant arrives. Of course, she doesn’t speak a lick of Italian and it takes the crew another few minutes to locate an attendant who does speak Italian and can tell Italian guy to settle down. Finally, the Italian-speaking attendant arrives and basically tells the Italian guy to settle down or he will be arrested. She explains to him that people can recline their seats in flight. This FINALLY seems to do the trick and Italian guy quiets down. I have never been so happy to get off a plane before!


{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

MJ November 29, 2009 at 9:06 am

Seriously, ignore madoche – he seems to be constantly constipated.

My father is 6'2" and has never complained about reclining seats. They recline, you have every right to use the seats as they were designed, and this guy sounds a little crazy.


madachode November 29, 2009 at 9:52 am

Did you fail to mention that the Italian guy that you were leaning into was over 6″ tall and your selfish seat reclining was smashing his knees? If I were him I would have locked you and you stupid seat in the lav.


DSD November 29, 2009 at 11:52 am

Oh how nice!! Madachode not only wants to entertain the folks on the plane while in flight by acting like a chode, he wants to land immediately and put on a different show as the air marshals forceably remove him in a city he had no intention of spending any amount of time in. Thats going the extra distance for your fellow travlers.
You wouldn’t have done SQUAT!

That does not sound like a fun flight at all Andrea.


Aaron November 29, 2009 at 8:06 pm

Madachode is about 7 years old. I think his parents need to limit computer access to when his diaper is clean and comfy. Otherwise, he takes it out on everyone else. Of course, I’d be kind of ornery if I was still in diapers at age 7.


Hugh November 30, 2009 at 12:23 am

The seats recline for a reason. You area llowed to use that feature. Sure, if possible you try to be nice and considerate of those around you, but your comfort is worth something as well. If someone is too tall for coach, there are other solutions, like business or first class, driving, bus, train, etc. Their height is NOT my problem. Again, when I fly, I recline a bit, usually not the whole way…first, it's more comfortable for me, secondly, it allows the person behind me more room. On redeyes I do recline all the way regardless of the height of the person behind me. Madachode…I love how the internet makes people liek you so brave. I think we are all aware that you are most likely a bed wetting mommas boy who wouldn't so much as look at someone else wrong for fear of being confronted. You ever end up behind me and give me the least trouble, and I'd guarantee you'd do NOTHING like you advocated in your post. Now, log off the computer in mommy's basement and go outside and play.


Jodi November 30, 2009 at 10:39 am

Wow. I cannot believe a man would do that to you, but I find it absolutely wonderful that the guy next to you stood up for ya. Bravo to him. Sorry you had to go through this. As Madachode, grow up. You don't treat women like this — didn't your mom teach you better!?!


Captain Art Griego November 30, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Did you suggest group prayer as a possible way to deflate the situation? Sometimes all we need to do is just take a moment and remember why we're here and be thankful to GOD. We need to remember that He has the power to revoke the Miracle of Flight at any moment, and send the plane into a horrific high-g tailspin, only to end up as a pile of twisted and charred wreckage in some back-water state like Illinois. Group prayer would have been a great way to have gone "big picture" all over those Italians. Consider it next time!

GOD bless you-

Captain Art Griego


Luther December 1, 2009 at 11:10 am

Love the standard "They put recline in the seats, its my right to use it" arguement. This is true only to the point that it does not harm someone else. If you recline your seat, and it impacts the passenger behind you – you have committed battery. By definition, Battery is "an unlawful touching". You have used your seat to unlawfully touch the passenger behind you. Your "right to recline" does not trump another passengers right to be free of you battery.


Hugh December 1, 2009 at 11:24 am

Luther…get real. Me reclining my seat does NOT constitute battery. If I reclined, and the person behind me was severely inconvenienced, and asked nicely and respectfully, and didn't have THEIR seat reclined, I would most likely straighten it up some if not all the way. Most people are reasonable beings. I also hate to tell you, but you are no lawyer, so quit playing one. their comfort does not trump my comfort.


Max December 2, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Hey, Captain Art.

When was the last time you heard of God revoking the laws of physics? I seriously doubt that God (being so all-powerful and benevolent and all) would send a passenger jet into a "high-g tailspin" due to an argument over reclining seats. As far as I'm concerned, God has nothing to do with flight. How about civilized discussion as a way to break up a fight? Or maybe calling the FA on that guy's unruly tuchus?


Max December 3, 2009 at 6:17 am

Hey, Max.

Unfortunately GOD isn't up for a civilized discussion about reclining seats. Why? Because He has better things to do, that's why. Keeping all the aircraft in the world aloft and delivering passengers and flight crews to their destinations safely is but one of His holy charges.

And the "laws of physics", like the "Theory of Evolution" are just theories or ideas, unproven and unsupported by hard evidence. We may think physics keep planes in the air, but in truth we don't really know because we can't see, touch, taste, or hear physics, now can we? GOD has everything to do with flight, or otherwise we wouldn't commonly refer to the Miracle of Flight as the Miracle of Flight, now would we? Kind of a no-brainer. I'll putting my money on GOD, thank you very much. Good day to you.

GOD bless you,

Captain Art Griego


Luther December 3, 2009 at 11:08 am

Hey Hugh….what would you call it them?? If you recline your seat, and it physically is touching the person behind you…what is it? From personal experience, the added coup de grace is the rod they put in the seat back pouch is at just the right height that it will hit your patella tendon…oh no, i used a medical term, I must be pretending to be a doctor now.


Kad December 15, 2009 at 5:52 pm

So Andrea, you were assaulted, your seat mate was assaulted, and the FA's helpfully calmed the situation? I'm not you, but if I had been your seat mate, I would have demanded a landing to get the crazy lunatic off the plane, because of 'safety issues'.

As far as madachode…well, chode is an internet word. And it isn't a good one.


Joey February 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Hugh, I hate to tell you this but Luther is correct it is BATTERY, I am a lawyer. Its ridciulous I'm 6'3 and ppl in front just don't get it, you have zero room as it is and when some a@# puts their seat back it is literally pushing on my knees. Just because you can put your seat back doesn't mean you should. I agree with Luther the whole argument that b/c your seat reclines back you should be able to is absurd, I have a gun does that mean I get to shoot you?


Kad February 1, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I get tired of people who assume that because they CAN do something they should DO it.

Reclining seats are a perfect example. I'm 5'10" and find some airplanes quite snug when someone decides to recline. Someone with 4 or more inches of leg to stuff into the space between their seat the the one in front seems oddly impossible, and yet it happens every day.

At the same time as I decry the behaviour of the 'Italian' who seems to think the best response is aggressive verbal antics, I am saddened by the blithe attitude of the OP, who seems to think that a reclining seat must be used, no matter the consequences.

Damn, I would have bought the guy a drink and negotiated a settlement (2 hours my way, 2 hours your way?)

It is curious that many people still have this romantic notion of flying (look up some old airline commercials on Youtube) and yet expect to have problems when we cannot get along with our fellow humans in confined spaces. We expect those problems to occur, because we are masters of our own little domain for a few hours, and everyone else should bow down before us.

Yes, machaode and Hugh are tiresome, but still have a point.

When I fly, I offer my seat mates every courtesy, even at the expense of my own comfort.

I take comfort when I steal the taxi from them at our destination……because I am raring to go, while they are cathartic, sleepy even. 🙂


MF February 2, 2010 at 5:47 am

I agree – it is utterly selfish to recline your seat.

As a 5 '11 man, I never do, and would happily smack the back of your seat hard if you did this to me.


xxx March 28, 2013 at 9:14 pm

i'll recline my seat, and bring an FA over if you have a problem with it.


Pmulia March 2, 2014 at 9:29 pm

When I travel in coach, I don't quite like it when someone in front of me recline. But I never complain. I know it's their rights. As for me, I do recline most of the time, but not during meal service. I think we all want to be as confortable as possible. Arguments about battery makes little sense, even more, comparing it to the use of gun. When I want to travel without hassle, then I buy business class ticket. When I'm low on cash and buy a coach ticket, I live with it. Even when it involves me, dealing with someone reclining and taking up some space of mine.


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