Men, Deal With Reclining Seats

December 18, 2009

in Flying Hell Commentary

The seats are designed to recline, and each passenger has the right to recline their seats when it’s been announced that it’s OK. On more than one occasion, when sitting in a window seat, the man (it’s always a man) has kicked my seat repeatedly until it moves forward from the force of the kicking.

The last time it happened, I had to call the flight attendant repeatedly to resolve the issue. It would seem to me that an aisle seat would be a better choice (assuming first-class is not an option) than a window seat. At least there’s some lateral room to move.

The seats recline — deal with it. Spring for first-class, pick an aisle seat, or just grow up. There are many things in life that we don’t like because of how it affects us personally, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to make their own rules at the expense of others.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Northern States Gal December 18, 2009 at 10:50 am

It is not just men who need leg room. Women do also. I don't believe that all men kick the back of seats. A tall person does not equal a rude person. If you do not have long legs you simply cannot relate but you can be tolerant and put your seat up to accomadate someone who may be EXTREMELY uncomfortable if you were to recline.


Jim December 18, 2009 at 11:38 am

Why the seats are designed to recline is beyond me. There is already too little leg room, for a 6' person like myself. I can only imagine how squeezed a 6'5 person or taller must be.

Seriously now, do you really need to recline your seat the less than 2- 3 inches it allows? Does it make that much difference to the person in the seat to have his back and head at just that little incline? Not really. But, to the person behind you with only 6 inches or less for his legs….that extra three inches is a huge difference.

So yes, the seats are made to recline…and, you have every right to do so. But, a polite person may think of the inconvenience caused to the person behind him, and refrain….just to be a good person. It's the whole, do unto others thing… Maybe even, ask the person behind, if they mind if you recline? We do say we live in a civilized society…we could try to act civilized.

I personally think it's a power play. The person who reclines his seat probably has a small pecker if a man, or is a loser in life if a woman….and, this is their way of trying to exert his manhood, or try to prove her superiority.

So, I will deal with it….but, I will pity your spouse…..having to deal with such an ego, must be exhausting.


Luna August 10, 2015 at 6:19 pm

Shut up! Please


debbie December 18, 2009 at 1:50 pm

WOW, what a bunch of whiners….the seats recline, if it bothers you when the person in front of you reclines their seat then recline your seat and wallllaaa, you now have the same amount of room.


jadefirefly December 18, 2009 at 2:32 pm

What a stupid response. Reclining your own seat doesn't magically re-create the lost leg room from the reclined seat ahead of you.

Demotage is exactly right. The -ability- to recline your seat doesn't grant you the -right- to be an ass.


MJ December 18, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I realize this is nitpicky, but the word is “voila,” not “walllaaa” or “wah la” or any other bizarre anglicized spelling of a French word.


Jody December 18, 2009 at 4:21 pm

If you’re reclining your seat, what helps is if you recline SLOWLY — nobody needs to slam his/her seat back. That gives the person behind you time to realize the seat is coming back.
Also, if you have your seat reclined, don’t leave it that way when you go to the lavatories or move around the cabin. Put it back up!


madachode December 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm

I carry a wedge with me to prevent the fool in front of me from reclining the seat. Works like a charm.


graphic3211 February 1, 2010 at 9:36 am

Where can I buy one of those wedges, I am 6'5" and every time I fly the person in front of me insists on relining into my legs. I especially like the ones that will recline harder and harder until my knees just miraculously disappear and they can stretch out. Their reclining seat is my legs, and the person that wrote this initial posting is an insensitive idiot.


Demotage December 18, 2009 at 6:14 pm

This topic comes up over and over – likely because it affects everyone who flies. I wrote a fairly reasonable response the last time it came up, about 5 posts ago. This time I want to rant.

What is UP with all of this “I have a right(!)” BS about being able to recline your seat? No, you don’t have a right to recline your seat. You have the ability to recline your seat. They are not the same thing.

If you notice, every single time that someone declares their RIGHT to recline their seat, the entire basis for that ‘right” comes down to two things: 1) I paid for the seat, and 2) The seat I paid for reclines.

Point 1: I too, purchased my seat, and that seat came with enough room for me to sit in, pain free. That is, until you recline your seat into my knees. What about my right to the knee space I paid for? Why is that less valuable than your ability to recline? Indeed, I’d argue that my having sharp jabbing pains in my knees is more serious that your relatively minor discomfort at not being able to put your seat back. Point 1: to the person behind.

Point 2: “The seat I paid for reclines, and therefore it’s my right to recline.” Let’s deconstruct this argument: Put in more general language, this argument would read: ‘Something that belongs to me has an ability, and therefore it’s my right to use that ability.” So, by that argument, I have the right to kick the back of your seat until you want to scream, because, hey, my legs belong to me, and they have the capability. I also have the right to stab you in the neck with my ballpoint pen, because, hey, it has a sharp enough tip to do that! Or I have the right to take the plastic bag that my magazines came in and place it over your head until you suffocate to death. It has that capability. By your argument, ITS MY RIGHT to do so.

In more general terms, those of you who claim the right to recline your seat just because it reclines are holding the philosophy of “If I can do it, then I have the right to do it.” If you have a brain, I believe you will see the falacy of that argument.

Now, on a more light-hearted note: Really Jim? You feel that the woman’s equivalent to having a small pecker is being a loser in life? It seems a mismatch. You assign men a anatomically localized defect, while equating that with a woman being a total loser in her whole life. I can only imagine that you did not intend such a mismatch, and therefore, by extension, you must believe that all men with small peckers are also losers in life. Furthermore, you believe that this is the reason I’m reclining my seat? What if my package is SO BIG, that I need to recline my seat to make room for it? Did you think of that? I didn’t think so ;-).


jlandz09 December 18, 2009 at 9:23 pm

Goodness, I’m 6’3″ and I usually ask the person behind me if it’s alright for me to recline. However, I don’t tend to complain to the person in front of me if they recline.

Maybe I’m just a pushover, but it seems those are the polite things to do.


Aaron December 19, 2009 at 10:17 am

I agree with Demotage. But, one problem is that there is a chain reaction. There only needs to be one person who “asserts their right to recline” and I may have no choice but to recline my seat even if I want to be considerate to the person behind me. I’m only 5’9″ so I don’t usually have knee room issues when the person in front of me reclines. But depending on the type of plane and the condition of seats, I’ve ended up with the back/top of the seat and the person’s head 5 inches from my face. That’s just not tolerable for hours. So I have to recline just to have enough space to breathe and not have to stair at the top of another person’s head. If this makes the person behind me is uncomfortable, I’m in a real bind. But trust me, it happens.


FinDog December 19, 2009 at 11:30 am

I am 6’3″ and will recline my seat if I feel the need. If your knees are touching the back of my seat that is your problem not mine. I would love to see someone come and stop me!



debbie December 19, 2009 at 2:08 pm

I agree, everyone has the right to recline their seat. Thats why the airlines put that button on the armrest and make the announcement "sit back, relax and enjoy the flight"


graphic3211 February 1, 2010 at 9:40 am

What you fail to realize is that my knees are already jammed into the back of your seat and there is no room for you to recline your seat. It is not my fault that the world is designed for midgets, both physical and mental ones.


Dispicable December 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

Yeah and your a perfect example of what’s wrong with this world…It’s really sad when a 20 year old is more courteous then people who are very likely a good 5-10 years+ older… There are many other ways to go about the world then doing what you want because you can, as said, ask the person if they don’t want you to and ask you nicely then I say you should suck it up for the 6 hours or make a compromise with them…If they don’t listen to reason then they are just as much a problem as people like yourself at that point I look down on no one who will take your philosophy of “Try & Stop Me”

Not trying to preach just throwing my opinion out there, You don’t have to be an inconsiderate dick to every one


Kiri the Can Opener January 31, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Fair enough. And if I'm sitting behind you and the constant movement of my knees in the back of your seat disturbs you then it's your problem, not mine. I would love to see someone come and stop me.


Demotage December 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Sheesh! All I was really fishing for was to see if the recliners could come up with a rationale that went beyond “I’ll do what I want because I can! If you don’t like it, F.U.!”

I guess not.


Jim December 21, 2009 at 7:00 am

I wholeheartedly agree….very sad that so many have the FU mentality.

However, I still remain that it is a power play by the recliner…..for whatever shortcomings they have in life. Not that I'm into psychobabble….but, I think there is something awry with a person when they take the FU mentality…and, knowingly do something that inconveniences others, simply because they can.

Look at InDogs response…"I would love to see someone come and stop me". Really? Is he in 2nd grade? Who really talks like that? It seems as if he is just looking for a response…and, wanting someone to knock the chip off his shoulder….trying to prove his manhood…and overcompensate for something he is lacking. 🙂


DSD December 20, 2009 at 5:03 am

Actually Jim, the 1 inch or so that I do recline my seat DOES make a big difference for my bad back. I don't fully recline the seat but I will push it back a little because the angle that the seat sits at when in "the fully upright position" is very uncomfortable to me. Actually if I am the first person to reach my row, I will immediately recline all of the seats about an inch. I have found that if all of the seats backs are matched, flight attendants don't notice that the seats are all pushed back a little.


Jennifer R. Povey December 27, 2015 at 10:23 am

You realize that you're violating federal law by doing that and that it's a genuine safety requirement, right? I sympathize with the bad back, but…

If your seat is not fully upright, it is also not fully secure. In the event of an impact, the seat will move forward, crushing you against the seat in front of you and likely causing serious injury.

PLEASE stop doing that. Especially as the person sitting next to you might not notice either…


crella December 21, 2009 at 12:00 am

“I realize this is nitpicky, but the word is “voila,” not “walllaaa” or “wah la” or any other bizarre anglicized spelling of a French word.”

Not picky at all. I was about to say the same thing 🙂


Demotage December 21, 2009 at 2:00 am

Me too! But I’m I known pedant.


T.M. December 22, 2009 at 9:45 am

Just because you CAN recline your seat doesn't always mean that you SHOULD.

Either the planes are getting smaller, or the passengers are getting larger, or both. Some planes have more leg room than others.

I think they should do away with reclining seats. I don't recline my seat when I fly because I don't want to inconvenience the person behind me. The seats aren't that unconfortable in the upright position, and most domestic flights are short enough that I can handle sitting upright for 2 to 4 hours without having to recline.


K December 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

Passengers are getting larger . . . unfortunately. I can’t speak to planes getting smaller (though I wouldn’t be surprised), but Americans especially are getting larger.

Also, I can see where a seat reclined into the space of a tall person would be annoying (I’m under 5′, so I can’t personally relate), but that doesn’t give them the right to kick and make a fuss. If it’s really that uncomfortable for them, be an adult and politely ask the person in front of you to ‘un-recline’ their seat a little bit. Kicking the back of the seat only makes you as immature as the people who say “I paid for this seat and I’ll do what I want.”


Rob March 5, 2010 at 2:05 am

A quick question: To the people who hate individuals reclining their seats, are your seats reclined or upright?


Jim March 5, 2010 at 4:10 am

Mine is upright. Unless, the design of the plane is such that when the person in front of me reclines, that my face is in their head….and, then it forces me to also recline….. And, if I do recline I turn to the person behind me and apologize. But, I do my darndest not to inconvenience those behind me…so, I will only recline if forced to do so by the person in front of me.

Really, if the airlines would just make the seats so they don't recline it would be beneficial.


Kiri the Can Opener January 31, 2011 at 11:34 pm

Upright unless the seat behind me is vacant or the passenger behind me has reclined first..


Tony March 9, 2010 at 3:51 am

Graphic3211 do you recline your seat? Bet you do. If your legs are so long…Why dont you run to your destination? Run Forest Run!!!


RCNY May 26, 2010 at 5:01 am

I think kicking the seat in front of you or putting a device on the seat to prevent it from leaning back is just as rude and inconsiderate as reclining the seat too fast.

I was sitting in a movie theater last week where the seats leaned back automatically when you sat down. The man who sat behind me kept kicking my seat and pushing it forward off and on the entire movie. He was worse than a child.

It seems to me that both parties should be considerate of the other. If the airplane seat in front of you goes back too far, be an adult and ask the person to move it up so that you are both comfortable.


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