Travel & Leisure

To Recline or Not to Recline?

A viral video has sparked debate over whether it’s rude to recline your seat on a plane


A video of an angry man repeatedly hitting the back of the seat of the woman in the row ahead of him on an American Airlines flight went viral recently and has reignited the debate over whether it’s acceptable to recline your seat.

The video went viral after the woman posted it to Twitter, where she went on to claim the man had violently punched her chair several times prior to her filming. The man was at the back of the plane in a row where he couldn’t recline, leading many to comment that the woman was at fault for infringing on the tiny amount of space allotted to him.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has since come out to say it’s best to ask to ask for permission before reclining—but only after being pressured to settle the debate on a CNBC segment.

“I think customers have the right to recline,” he told CNBC. “But I think that the proper thing to do is if you’re going to recline into somebody, that you ask if it’s OK first.

“I never say anything myself, though,” he added.

When the Toronto Star put the question to readers, most agreed the woman was at fault.

“It should be common courtesy NOT to recline your seat in economy,” wrote one commenter. “Airline seats in economy should not have this feature as the rude and selfish passengers using this feature are obviously the same that don’t mind to call their victims names.”

But a Toronto-based etiquette expert told CTV News that both people are at fault to some extent: while the woman was within her rights to recline her seat, she could have asked first, and the man overreacted.

“If someone butted in front of me at the grocery store,” Lisa Orr told CTV News, “I can’t get angry and then start whacking [that person] with my baguette. It’s not an option.”

Photo: iStock/OlyaSolodenko.