Recline-Gate 2: Another Plane Diverted After Passenger Leans Back


Edmond Alexandre, a 61-year-old Parisian man, got into a dispute with the unnamed passenger in front of him who attempted to recline his seat. Alexandre became increasingly upset, grabbing the arm of a flight attendant who was attempting to smooth over the situation.

So what gives with this problem? Seats are made to recline, are they not? If the an airline did not want people do recline, they did not have to install adjustable seats. Yet now they let people install guards that inhibit others. This whole think is beyond my understanding.


I would think that as a basic principle of flight that installing unapproved 3rd party devices on airline seating would not be allowed.


There are at least two airlines, I believe, which have installed seats which do not recline and are locked into the upright position.


Yes and the major American carriers have banned them; it looks the foreign airlines need to catch up.


Prior to 2001, the average was 34 inches.

Why? Less legroom = more seats on the plane.

So if there is a mere 30 inches of space between your seat and the one in front of you, losing 6 inches due to the person reclining is a major infringement.

But, of course, there is a debate: does your ticket provide you with volume or does it provide you with a place to deposit yourself (without regard to volumetric measurements)?


Solution – eat a heavily garlic-laden meal just before the flight and breathe heavily on the head of the reclined person in front of you.


This can pose a real problem.

I went on a" Right To Life March" to Washington and the “teacher” in front of me let her bus seat recline down. I had no leg room and sat crunched upright for 10 hours. I tried letting her know by even saying “outloud” a number of times that I had no leg room to no avail so I just sucked it up.

It really is so uncomfortable and so very annoying.


If this issue only has one side, then why do seats recline? If the person in front of me reclines, am I not justified in doing the same to have the same amount of room?


There are two issues with that theory. First if you are trying to read or use a laptop once someone reclines you have your book or laptop shoved up against your stomach. I guess you could rest it on their head which is now less than 2 feet from your face. It would be unwieldy at best to try to us a laptop while both you and the person in front of you are reclined. The second issue is if you are in the back seats then you can’t recline because of the bulkhead behind you.


Often times it is common sense. There is no room and it is very uncomfortable when people recline their seats before dinner for instance. I would not do that in turn to the person behind me,it bothers them.That was the case in my usual 10 hour only direct flight I had. My weight is 110 pounds and I am not very tall.
And you do not want to be there when on top of it they kneel or stand and shake the seat…
One of these days we are going to fly standing up to make more room in aircrafts…:rolleyes:


Here is a blog post with a picture illustrating the problem.

Because there is so little space between the rows, if someone reclines, their seat may hit the person behind them in the knees, or at least leave them very little space.

OTOH, sitting straight up for hours on end can be very uncomfortable too.

I don’t know whose side to be on–maybe airlines need to be very clear on the amount of space in each class, so that customers will choose accordingly. Kind of rough on very tall people.


I have learned that rather than expecting people to pick up on my hints and fuming* when they don’t, it is just better to ask politely. I try not to listen to comments not directly addressed to me so might easily miss comments like those you made, but if someone were to ask me nicely to adjust my seat, I would be happy to do so.

ETA: Not saying you fumed, but that I used to, and might still :frowning:


Common sense goes a long way in most things. In the example above dealing with the back row, one perhaps should not recline as much and maybe split the difference? If I wanted to apply the Golden Rule, that is what I would do. Have any of the airlines given any policy or explained why they have this quandary?

According to this article, knee defenders are not allowed on United.

I guess I do not see reclining as any ruder that intruding on the one in front of you reclining since he bought the same ticket you did. I think common sense would dictate that during meals, you should sit up, and reclining should be no more than you need and done slow enough not to hurt or cause spillage behind you.

Maybe you could cut a deal to sit upright for say, twenty bucks an hour, since space is money on air flights.


I’m sure glad no one is bothered by TSA anymore.

They’ll have to pay me to fly.


Paul,that is exactly what I think: dictating that during meals you should sit up.
Look,I always ask politely if they can sit up. Sometimes I feel sorry cause the person wants to sleep,and I understand people sometimes are afraid of flying and tend to fall asleep as fast as they can. But in any case,if it were a rule, I would not have to go into the awkward situation of asking kind of the obvious…
The link you provided can’t be read outside US,so I could not read it. thanks anyway.
I like your deal! Maybe it works next time …:slight_smile:


I just got back from a flight where I was literally in that position, and it wasn’t THAT bad.


Perhaps a law is needed to require 34 inches or more of legroom on all flights coming into or out of the USA.


You’re right. I should have asked. It just seemed so obvious that you can’t lie the seat all the way down and expect the person behind you to feel ok with that.

The seat next to her was empty so she had 2 seats. I only had one and very little space.

Part of the reason I didn’t ask outright was I was afraid of a confrontation on the bus and wouldn’t know how to handle it. That is what happened on the airplane according to this article

An American Airlines flight headed from Miami to Paris had to be diverted into Boston airport late on Wednesday night after two passengers began arguing and the argument turned physical.


I don’t voluntarily fly any more; sadly, my job requires me to fly…so I can’t totally divorce myself from the process.

The way that any company I’ve worked for or any government agency I’ve been employed by works is that they book you on the least expensive seat that they can. This is true for all people below the General Officer / SES level in the government and SVP and higher level in civilian industry.

I don’t blame them for having those policies: while there are some companies that have the cash flow to allow all their employees to fly business, most companies that I’ve seen are not in that position. Likewise, as a taxpayer, I’m pretty certain that I would be extremely angry if I found out that my tax dollars were being used to pay for government employees to be in that level of luxury.

Despite this, I usually want to stay productive when I’m “on the clock” – therefore, I really want to get some work done…review documents, work on a presentation, send/receive email (it keeps coming in whether or not I’m flying). It’s not that I’m a workaholic or even that I’m that dedicated…rather, if I don’t keep up with it, it’s just more work that piles on later.

So you end up getting crammed between somebody who wishes to sleep with his head in your lap on one hand and the mother who decided to have her two-year-old sit in her lap for the trip behind you (naturally, this mother gushes at the two year old kicking his feet right in your back behind you). In the meantime, you’re trying to get something done on the 5 hour flight.

Thank God that is not every trip, but it happens far too often.

Airlines have gotten so bad over the past 10 years that the TSA thing has turned into a minor annoyance for me. It’s security theatre that doesn’t do anything, but I don’t ever foresee a time when it will go away, so I just follow instructions and get through it as quickly as possible. *

The tragedy is that I used to really enjoy travel. Now, if I can’t get there in a reasonable time by car and my business doesn’t require me to go, I don’t go.*


Just what we need…another law.:rolleyes:

Unfortunately, airlines can get away with it because people want the lower fares and are willing to put up with discomfort to achieve those lower fares.

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