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Old 02-16-2020, 03:22 PM
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Airline passenger etiquette: reclining your seat


I fly quite a bit. I often recline my seat after reaching altitude and don't think twice about it. But a recent news story suggests I'm being rude in doing so. At the very least, according to Delta's CEO, I should ask permission from the person behind me. Which... doesn't make sense to me. After all, I'm paying for a reclining seat.
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Old 02-16-2020, 03:38 PM
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This puzzles me too, a bit. Usually I take it to mean that it is polite to notify the person behind you if you are going to do a full recline (which I never do) or at least to do it fairly slowly instead of just crashing back. When flying Coach I've had seats recline suddenly into my knees (I have longish legs) when with a bit of warning I could have gotten them out of the way. (My loud "Ow!" had no visible effect on the perpetrator.)

These days I only fly Premium Economy (or whatever the individual airline calls it) with the extra room between rows.
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:04 PM
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I'm not a flyer, but I just can't believe that doing this is even allowed, because of safety issues, unless a passenger is ill.
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:11 PM
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That's bullshit, especially coming from an Airline CEO that has reduced seat size & leg space to such tiny amounts. I didn't start flying until the 80s, but the seats were wider and the leg space was absolutely a lot greater. There are airlines now where the seats don't recline anymore (Spirit is one). Maybe Delta is preparing for that move.
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:19 PM
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As long as it's not meal time I see no issue in slowly reclining your seat. I mean it only reclines by what, three or four inches at the top anyway. And it IS your paid seat.

Most times I don't bother reclining because it's barely worth it anyway.
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:20 PM
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I fly a,lot, I never recline fully if there is a person in the seat behind me. Air travel is terrible enough, it’d be a little better if people were more considerate of one another.
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:22 PM
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I get annoyed every single time the person in front of me reclines.

That said, it's hard to argue against the "if we should not recline then why are the seats designed to allow reclining?" point of view.


mmm
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Crafter_Man View Post
After all, I'm paying for a reclining seat.
Are you specifically paying for a reclining seat, as opposed to just paying for a seat? And what is the person behind you paying for?

Common sense says to me that, if your seat has the option of reclining, your reclining shouldn't cause significant discomfort or inconvenience for the person behind you. But if it is, that's the airline's fault, not that of the person behind you, and that person shouldn't have to suffer for your comfort. So if what that person has to lose is equal or greater than what you have to gain by your reclining, you should not recline. And if you don't like it, your beef is with the airline or the designer of the plane.
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Old 02-16-2020, 04:25 PM
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If I'm not supposed to recline my seat, then the seats shouldn't be reclinable.
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:15 PM
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Are you specifically paying for a reclining seat, as opposed to just paying for a seat? And what is the person behind you paying for?

Common sense says to me that, if your seat has the option of reclining, your reclining shouldn't cause significant discomfort or inconvenience for the person behind you. But if it is, that's the airline's fault, not that of the person behind you, and that person shouldn't have to suffer for your comfort. So if what that person has to lose is equal or greater than what you have to gain by your reclining, you should not recline. And if you don't like it, your beef is with the airline or the designer of the plane.
I think this is the major reason I have a problem with the "don't ever recline" position. I've never been in an airplane where the person in front reclining back into my space made all that much of a difference to me (except maybe at meal times). Sure, they're a bit "in your space", but it's not like your head is trying to be in that space - your head is probably back on your own seat. But sitting straight up for a whole flight is fuckin' uncomfortable - if I have a choice between "everybody reclines" and "everyone doesn't", it's really not even a question.

Bearing in mind that well over half of flights I've ever taken are of the 24-hours between opposite sides of the globe type. In order to be comfortable and have a chance of sleeping I really need a recline of at least 30 degrees, 45 for preference, and I'm getting about 5. I have a hell of a lot of unmet recline-need here
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:30 PM
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...if I have a choice between "everybody reclines" and "everyone doesn't", it's really not even a question...
I agree with this. If everyone reclines, everyone has the same volume of space, but configured in a way that most people find more comfortable to rest. If this continues to be a big contentious issue, I think it should probably be formalized that you cannot recline while the meal is served, then they have an announcement when the meal is over that everyone is now allowed to recline. That would also address the problem of people doing it suddenly and without warning.
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:46 PM
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I've been on flights where people with very long legs get their knees banged when the seat in front of them reclines, so I'm mindful of it myself. Being short, I don't care if the person in front of me does, as long as my coffee doesn't spill.

I've rarely found the few inches that my seat reclines enough to bother with. The few times I've wanted to recline, I asked the person behind me if it would be a problem for their knees.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:02 PM
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I'm pretty tall and I've been kneecapped by reclining seats many a time. The only escape is to open your knees so your thighs are going diagonally instead of straight into the seat in front. Maybe it was okay in the past, but the ever decreasing pitch of rows has made it so that seats should not be able to recline, and those that do recline are being rude by so doing. You're paying for a reclining seat? Tough. I'm paying not to get my kneecaps broken.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:17 PM
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You're paying for a reclining seat? Tough. I'm paying not to get my kneecaps broken.
Obviously, you are not paying enough. If accommodating your longshanks is that important to you, you should have sprung for first class, and everyone would be happy.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:22 PM
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Obviously, you are not paying enough. If accommodating your longshanks is that important to you, you should have sprung for first class, and everyone would be happy.
I only fly on the employer's dime, and damned if they would spring for first class.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:29 PM
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I only fly on the employer's dime, and damned if they would spring for first class.
So when you said, "I am paying not to get my kneecaps broken," that was just a figure of speech?

Sounds like your beef is with your employer, not your fellow passengers.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:29 PM
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It used to be that reclining a seat wasn't a problem, but the fucking airlines have crammed in so many seats into each aircraft that it's really inconsiderate to do so now. I generally don't do it.

But the correct response to a reclining passenger isn't to punch the back of their seat -- you can just explain to the person ahead of you that you're uncomfortable. I've read posts on other message boards from people claiming to have a divine right to resort to threats or violence or outright violence if someone dares to recline a seat, and I'm like, WTF?!
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:32 PM
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Obviously, you are not paying enough. If accommodating your longshanks is that important to you, you should have sprung for first class, and everyone would be happy.
Total bullshit response.

Let's think about this with some civility. Have some awareness. Try to understand that leaning your seat back can really make someone physically uncomfortable and how much they paid really doesn't mean jack shit. It's not BLD's fault that the airlines pack us all in like sardines, but that's the reality and everyone who flies just ought to try to be neighborly.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:36 PM
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I fly a,lot, I never recline fully if there is a person in the seat behind me. Air travel is terrible enough, it’d be a little better if people were more considerate of one another.
Same here. I mean, I don't fly a lot anymore (as in, maybe two or three times a year). But when I did, I never reclined for pretty much the reason you state. (It also helped that reclining didn't make me the least bit more comfortable anyway, so why take it out on the poor sod behind me?)

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Old 02-16-2020, 07:40 PM
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This is a silly debate. Of course you can recline. That is what the seat is designed for. (I say this as someone who basically never reclines, unless it's on an overnight flight.) I can see that it's courteous to ask first if people have just been served drinks or something, but otherwise, it's ridiculous to expect people not to use a feature that the seat is clearly designed to have.
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Old 02-16-2020, 07:43 PM
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I'm not a flyer, but I just can't believe that doing this is even allowed, because of safety issues, unless a passenger is ill.
??? What safety issues? You do understand this is about tilting the seat back by maybe three inches, not turning it into a flat bed?

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Old 02-16-2020, 07:58 PM
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If the seat reclines to where it hits somebody else's knees, it's not okay. It doesn't matter who paid for what.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:04 PM
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This whole thing is stupid. The viral video currently making the rounds - the dumb woman thought it would be better to take video to post online than to just turn around and ask the guy to stop. And if the guy was being crowded by the woman reclining, just tap her on the shoulder and let her know. Jeebus, people.

And there is the answer: be present and accountable to your own comfort. If someone reclines and it impinges you, let them know. If you want to recline, either do it slowly or just let the person know. Sheesh, it's like we cannot even communicate with one another any more.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:08 PM
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If the seat reclines to where it hits somebody else's knees, it's not okay. It doesn't matter who paid for what.
The airlines need to stop sucking so much. Actually I would love to see some government regulation put back on these assholes. Air travel gets worse every year. It is still fairly cheap but it sucks badly. I hate flying at this point. 1st class is a prohibitive waste of money and steerage class is an affront. No mode of travel is more dehumanizing than air travel now.

Maybe a Facebook movement in favor of Airline regulation would scare this scummy industry into being more accommodating to passengers.

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Old 02-16-2020, 08:30 PM
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This whole thing is stupid. The viral video currently making the rounds - the dumb woman thought it would be better to take video to post online than to just turn around and ask the guy to stop. And if the guy was being crowded by the woman reclining, just tap her on the shoulder and let her know. Jeebus, people.
I'm guessing that he didn't respond well to a polite request to stop punching her seat.

And I think if you're tall enough that you're made uncomfortable by the seat in front of you reclining, you should pay extra for an extra space seat, or one in an exit row or a bulkhead seat.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:42 PM
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By the way, while the incident in question occurred on an American Airlines flight, the CEO of Delta Airlines says you should ask permission of the person behind you before reclining. I don't agree with him. It's the airlines' fault that a reclined seat inconveniences the person in the row behind.
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Old 02-16-2020, 08:52 PM
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Total bullshit response.

Let's think about this with some civility. Have some awareness. Try to understand that leaning your seat back can really make someone physically uncomfortable and how much they paid really doesn't mean jack shit. It's not BLD's fault that the airlines pack us all in like sardines, but that's the reality and everyone who flies just ought to try to be neighborly.
The problem is primarily with the airlines. They keep shrinking the leg room on us. I am not going to pay for the upgrade all the way to first class just so I won't get crushed. The seats should be spaced far enough so that the vast majority of people can have the person in front of them recline without getting crushed. But the airlines are willing to sacrifice our comfort for their bottom line. This is an unintended consequence of deregulation. Back in the good old days, everybody had the same fares and had to compete on service. Now it's get crammed in and if you're lucky you get a tiny soft drink.
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Old 02-17-2020, 01:07 AM
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First of all, the guy in the seat behind the woman was in the very last row. Those seats don't recline, so "everybody could just recline" isn't possible.

Second, if you're trying to use the tray table, as I often am because I'm using my laptop, having the seat in front of you in the recline position puts the table in an uncomfortable position.

I'm 5'2-ish, and even I'm cramped in those airline seats. I don't know how you tall people do it. Your knees must be practically tucked under your chin. I think it's inconsiderate and rude to put your seat in the reclining position these days. No, it's not your fault that there's so little space, but that doesn't justify encroaching on what little space the person behind you has. That's why I no longer do it.

The seats recline because they're the same seats that were in planes when planes had fewer rows. Remember when planes still had ash trays in the lavs even after you couldn't smoke on planes? Same general situation. As far as I'm concerned, the airlines could change all seats in coach so they can't recline. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens down the road a few years.

And I think the more crowded people are, the crankier they get, so pity the poor flight attendants.
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Old 02-17-2020, 06:06 AM
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My mother raised me to be considerate of others. Give up my bus seat for those in more need, don't shove my bag in their face, don't eat stinky food in a packed train carriage, queue nicely, that kind of thing. I don't always stack up to her high standards, but reclining my seat is something I don't do.

I do agree, however, that it's the airline's fault. I just don't think I should make others suffer because of it.

As a result, I admit I judge others who recline. Just like I judge those who use my head rest to heave themselves into their seat when I'm clearly asleep.

Last edited by SanVito; 02-17-2020 at 06:08 AM.
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Old 02-17-2020, 06:41 AM
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Airline seats don't recline; they temporally are moved forward during takeoff and landing.
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Old 02-17-2020, 06:53 AM
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I pay for a reclining seat so I use a reclining seat, I feel no need to apologies for it nor to ask permission, out of common courtesy I have my seat upright when the meals are served. No one has ever asked me for permission and nor should they.

Everyone getting on a plane knows that seats recline, if that is a massive problem for you, don't fly.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:15 AM
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There are some people who try to be considerate of other people, there are people who didn't realize they were negatively impacting other people, and there are people who don't care about other people. It's true in the air and on the ground.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:27 AM
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Are there any hard statistics on the amount of legroom offered by airlines? Its decline is always presented as holy writ in these discussions, but it's pretty hard to find out how much space there was between rows of seats, say, 50 years ago. I'm not sure there's even a standard way to measure, since things like tray table design can affect this. (It's not pitch, or at least pitch is only one factor. Pitch includes the seat itself, and old airline seats were really thick. Which has declined more, the pitch or the cushion? Not that the shrinking cushion is entirely good for passengers either.)

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 02-17-2020 at 07:31 AM.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:34 AM
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There are some people who try to be considerate of other people, there are people who didn't realize they were negatively impacting other people, and there are people who don't care about other people. It's true in the air and on the ground.
Having the seat in front of me in the default position is not a negative impact. If I want more room, I have the option of paying for it.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:34 AM
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The entirety of air flight is a miserable experience, from shoe and belt removal for security theater to omnipresent delays that screw up connections. Just accept it. It sucks. Once you accept the misery of flying, you can tilt your seat back and relax.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:39 AM
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Having the seat in front of me in the default position is not a negative impact. If I want more room, I have the option of paying for it.
Like I said: There are some people who try to be considerate of other people, there are people who didn't realize they were negatively impacting other people, and there are people who don't care about other people. It's true in the air and on the ground
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:47 AM
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Like I said: There are some people who try to be considerate of other people, there are people who didn't realize they were negatively impacting other people, and there are people who don't care about other people. It's true in the air and on the ground
And some people try to signal their virtue without making any actual arguments on a debate forum.
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Old 02-17-2020, 07:55 AM
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And some people try to signal their virtue without making any actual arguments on a debate forum.
Some of us have virtue to signal. You are admitting that you don't care about the discomfort of others. What is there to debate? You're only defense is "I don't care about anyone else." It's pointless to argue with you.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:22 AM
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I pay for a reclining seat so I use a reclining seat, I feel no need to apologies for it nor to ask permission, out of common courtesy I have my seat upright when the meals are served. No one has ever asked me for permission and nor should they.

Everyone getting on a plane knows that seats recline, if that is a massive problem for you, don't fly.
Do you also wear a top hat inside a theater because you paid for it and if it blocks somebody's view then well, they should have paid for a front row seat?

It isn't that complicated. The seats are too close together yet they still recline as if there was a ton of room behind them. Either don't recline your seat or look behind you and see if the person is going to suffer discomfort if you do. Placing your comfort ahead of others is quite uncivil and impolite, in my opinion.

Last edited by BobLibDem; 02-17-2020 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:29 AM
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...Placing your comfort ahead of others is quite uncivil and impolite, in my opinion.
I would argue that placing your complete comfort ahead of others is uncivil. If there is someone behind you, don't recline fully. It's not hard to practice a little consideration.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:36 AM
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I would argue that placing your complete comfort ahead of others is uncivil. If there is someone behind you, don't recline fully. It's not hard to practice a little consideration.
I'll buy that. If someone reclines partially and doesn't either crush my knees or thrust the tray table into my gut, I'm cool with that.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:39 AM
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Of course you don't recline fully, because it's an airline seat. You can't recline fully. Nobody's talking about reclining fully. We're talking about reclining the slight amount that's possible in an airline seat.
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Old 02-17-2020, 08:53 AM
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Complicating the issue is that packing more people onto planes reduces the environmental impact of each person flying. That means that policies that we don't like as passengers (less space per seat, overbooking flights, charging more per luggage) are actually passing on part of the environmental costs of flying to us. Which is better for the people of the world, collectively.

And in general, packing people closer together reduces the impact of each person on the environment. We, as a society, have to learn how to handle being in closer proximity to each other.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:06 AM
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Complicating the issue is that packing more people onto planes reduces the environmental impact of each person flying. That means that policies that we don't like as passengers (less space per seat, overbooking flights, charging more per luggage) are actually passing on part of the environmental costs of flying to us. Which is better for the people of the world, collectively.

And in general, packing people closer together reduces the impact of each person on the environment. We, as a society, have to learn how to handle being in closer proximity to each other.
Damn, good point, but I think we're packed tighter than we should be at this point.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:06 AM
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I'll buy that. If someone reclines partially and doesn't either crush my knees or thrust the tray table into my gut, I'm cool with that.
Exactly, recline a bit, but never during meal service. If people just agreed to that, I'd be happy. I'm 6'1" and someone coming all the way back means that my knees are embedded in their seat back.

These threads always end up with one side arguing on behalf of basic civility and courtesy and the other side saying "nope" over and over again.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:15 AM
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I always ask. I have only once ever been asked please not to recline my seat. The passenger behind me was 6'7, and it was not an overnight flight. It was a fairly short day flight, but I had just been on an international flight, on which I had not gottenenough sleep, and was very tired. I dozed sitting up nonetheless. I had tried to get premium, and had not been successful, and I assumed it was the same with him.

I also always sit up during meals. I even ask flight attendants to put my seat up if I am asleep during a meal, and not in first class.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:17 AM
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Damn, good point, but I think we're packed tighter than we should be at this point.
I'm going to disagree here. I have no problem with varying levels of comfort with variation in price. If I could fly cheaper than I do today in exchange for standing the entire time, I'd consider it.
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Old 02-17-2020, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
Obviously, you are not paying enough. If accommodating your longshanks is that important to you, you should have sprung for first class, and everyone would be happy.
Which completely ignores the fact that many routes simply don't offer first class - or even "comfort class" seating. So you and every other passenger get to complete for the 12 out of 130+ seats that are in emergency exit rows.
  #49  
Old 02-17-2020, 10:46 AM
needscoffee is offline
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To all the people who say they'll recline their seats no matter what: what if your seat is literally hitting a tall person's knees behind you? What do you expect them to do? Sit sideways? No space.

It's pretty much the same as jabbing them with your elbow. It's a physical assault.

There are only so many aisle seats available, and it's discriminatory and ridiculous to make tall people pay hundreds of dollars more for first class to not get banged up.
  #50  
Old 02-17-2020, 10:49 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
There are only so many aisle seats available, and it's discriminatory and ridiculous to make tall people pay hundreds of dollars more for first class to not get banged up.
Is there a problem making someone who is morbidly obese buy two seats if they take up two seats?
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