Ban reclining seats on planes

We’ve had another air rage incident over a reclining seat – when are airlines stop the ability to impinging on another passenger’s comfort?

Planes are not spacious and they are becoming less so.  Airlines are trying to increase profits and they are doing so by raising charges, reducing services and by jamming more seats into the confined space of a plane fuselage.

Whenever I’m asked which is my favourite airline? I say “any airline that has seats you can’t recline”.  You see, my pet aversion is the reclining seat.  I don’t recline my seat, primarily because I have respect for the person behind me, and I simply hate it when the person in front of me shifts their seat as far back as it will go.  My thinking is that if I dislike having the seat in front of me pushed up into my face, there’s a fair chance that the person behind me will be similarly aggrieved if I do the same to them.

Flying on a full plane, which is getting to be the norm these days, is unpleasant enough, without having your space stolen from you by someone else.

I’m a big boy, vertically and horizontally.  Because I am big, I am aware of just how little space each passenger has.  I can live in the space allocated to me on a flight, sometimes uncomfortably, but I will live with it, and I hate anyone who thinks that they have the right to invade my personal space by reclining their seat back!

Damn it!  Why should I have to put up with having the back of their head jammed almost in my face, just because they haven’t learnt how to sit up!

Statistics show that humans are getting bigger, yet airlines give us less and less space on planes.  Part of the reason for this is because airline CEOs never travel down the back of the plane – they don’t know what it’s like to be squashed for several hours, and they certainly don’t care.

When the person in front of you reclines their seat you have difficulty using the service tray – you can’t rest a book on it, or enjoy a drink.  Your tray has been made redundant by the reclined seat.  What little enjoyment you may have salvaged from your overcrowded flight has been denied you.

Your personal space has been invaded.  It should be legal to bash the head of the reclining passenger with the book they’ve ensured you can’t read.  Or, order food and tip it over them because they won’t allow you to eat it properly.

The best way to stop the scourge of the reclining seat is for airlines to ban them.  Don’t purchase them in the first place.  The airlines treat us like cattle so they shouldn’t give us accoutrements like reclining seats, so that we can also behave like cattle.

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111 comments to Ban reclining seats on planes

  • John Ross

    Is it the reclining seat that is the problem or the pitch between seats. The last flight I took (I won’t mention the airline for fear of embarrassing Jetstar) had the pitch so tight, that I spent the flight with my knees wedged hard against the seat in front of me and that was after I had pushed my backside as far as I could into the back of my seat. A small (very small) stretch of the legs was impossible and was craved for during the flight. I spent the whole flight totally uncomfortable, fearing the onset of pressure sores on my knees and the nagging thought that I may be poking the passenger in front of me. The argument for banning reclining seats definitely has merit but I would also like to see the seat pitch issue addressed. With airlines now looking at even smaller seat pitches by having the passengers half stand, it seems to me that regulation may need to be brought in, if not in the interest of safety then perhaps in the interest of humaneness and dignity.

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  • CK

    You and I both know, when we purchase our tickets, that we can both recline our seat. When I recline mine, I am not invading YOUR space, I am simply using the space that was allocated to ME. If you dont want a reclining seat in front of you, sit in an exit row, but otherwise, really, this is a senseless complaint, unless you are taller than 6’5″

  • R. Ecliner

    You CANNOT be serious about proposing the banning of reclining seats.

    What? you reckon I’m going to be happy to site bolt upright for a 9-hour Transatlantic flight? because what you perceived to be your personal space was “invaded”??

    Seek professional counseling for this issue of yours, PLEASE!

  • R. Ecliner

    PLEASE do not “respect my space” if I’m sitting behind you.

    and hereby give you my full permission
    to recline YOUR seat to its fullest capacity.

    I’m quite serious about this.
    Have your Attorney draw up a legally-binding document I can sign.
    I’m serious.

    And btw, what other anal-retentive issues do you have??
    I’m 61, and this is *THE First Time* I’ve ever come across ANYone with this issue.

    I’m finding you hard to believe..and I’m thinking you need to fly First Class
    – where they give you ample leg-room! Spend the $$$!
    Don’t cheap-out on Economy and then expect others to conform to your body morphology

  • Not all airlines have reclining seats, some of the budget airlines in the Asia region have seats which don’t recline – and I obviously don’t mind at all that they don’t recline. But, if your seat does recline and you are sitting directly in front of me and recline it to the maximum, I can’t use the table that is supposedly provided for my use, so it is invading my space. However, the best way to recline your seat is the type they use on Air Asia. The seat is segmented so that the outer portion of the seat doesn’t move, but the inner portion allows you to recline. However, this method does affect the recliner’s leg room. That way, no one except you is disadvantaged if you recline, and that’s the way it should be. I have used it on a long night flight, and it was actually quite comfortable. Other airlines please take note.

  • C. Law

    Being 6’4″ myself, I couldn’t agree with Grumpy more on this. Ban the reclining seat!!! Or at least ban it unless the seat behind is empty. “Ban” of course is sort of a ridiculous idea, but as there are few if any people out there as courteous as Grumpy, I’d say go for the ban.

    Already my legs don’t fit sitting in a normal position unless I wedge my knees against the seat ahead. If you have the right to recline because you “are using the space alloted to you” then I should have the right to prop my legs up against your seat in the space alloted to me thereby preventing your recline.

    Trust me, I know the world isn’t built for people over 6 feet tall, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all be courteous to one another. Think about it next time the guy next to you has to ask for a belt extender as his belly overflows into you lap.

  • shortflier

    Reclining seats are not just a problem for large or tall passengers.

    I am very short, and when a seat is reclined in front of me the top of the seat ends up inches from my face since I am not tall enough to clear the seat when sitting.

    Once when I was flying overseas the person in front of me reclined his seat all the way back then sat forward to optimize his space on the flight. I had a total of 1.5 inches of clearance between the seat in front of me and my nose which is actually dangerous (any turbulence and I would have had a broken nose) let alone uncomfortable. The flight was full and I could not change seats and the flight attendant would not ask the person to move his seat. He spoke a foreign language and did not respond to requests in English, spanish or french.

    I ended up having to sit on the floor on my knees facing my seat as a table for almost the entire flight. Good thing I am small right?

  • Let me put it this way. If you are going to sit bolt upright on a 9-hour transatlantic flight and you are sitting directly in front of me, then I’m going to be happy.

  • Jason H

    As a 6’5″ economy traveler, I support the idea of a ban on reclining seats and like your post. It’s intriguing to see a few selfish and attacking replies here suggesting that you either spend the money for first class (have those folks ever actually looked at how much first class tickets are!?) or recline your seat to make it even. Having been encroached upon many times on flights by the person in front of me reclining their seat, I never recline my seat out of respect for the passenger behind me. Three to five inches of reclining makes little to no difference in my comfort but does severely impact the comfort of the traveler behind me.
    The seats of Air Asia that you mention are the right way to go and I look forward to the day when more airlines replace their seats with seats like that. If a person chooses to recline their seat they ought to be the one that ends up with less leg room and a tighter fit between their torso and the seat-back tray in front of them.

  • Michael

    There ARE supposedly seats being used by some airlines where, for people who (for some reason) do not like to sit upright can have the back of their seat moved INWARD – a win-win — THEY get to recline, but they take up THEIR OWN space. Reclining seats don’t just relate to comfort either. If you’re a business traveller and planning to do work on the airplane, in many cases a reclining seat will prevent a laptop from opening fully, especially as airlines are slightly adjusting seat pitch. And as companies are cutting corners, they won’t necessarily put you in business class even when they are the ones paying. What’s your take on the contraptions you can buy that prevent the seat in front of you from reclining, by the way?? I was very excited to hear of them…

  • Pat

    One time the guy ahed of me dropped the back of his seat down as possible.
    I tapped his shoulder & ask if he would like to lay his head on my lap. He gave me a mean look & put up the seat.
    I had a child next to my seat & i bet the baby would cry in his ear.

  • Vic

    Yes, I’ll respect the “personal space” of all of you tall people when you all start lining up at the rear of the concert venues I attend instead of planting yourselves in front of me blocking my view. Sorry, you’ll get no sympathy from me.

  • I believe the whold ban reclining seats is ridiculous. People not only for their seats but also pay to be able to be comfortable. what about children who are exhausted and just want to lay back. Stop being so uptight and selfish all because of your little incident.Sounds like your eager to get revenge or do something about it.(Dont StoP Reclining SeatS)!!

  • Get real

    Get real. I pay for my seat and I will recline it as far back as it lets me. It is a function of my seat, I paid for it and I will do it. Where the hell do you get off saying that the person is invading your space? Like another poster just mentioned, that is MY alloted space in which to recline. If you don’t like it, don’t fly, move your seat or go to first class. What a bunch of bullshit!

  • The reason that there is no space on planes is because cheapskates like you have demanded cheaper and cheaper flights at the expense of everything else, including comfort, service, food and safety. You shop by price only and accept any reduction in service and comfort. You get what you pay for. If you want more space, buy first or business class, or fly “economy plus” on some carriers. If you can’t handle somebody reclining into your space, pick a seat behind an exit row or bulkhead. Or don’t fly. Being able to recline is something that an airline passenger pays for, and I for one intend to incline on every flight I take until I stop flying.

  • v


    “Blocking your view” at a concert does not cause physical injury to you. If it did you would have the right to sue the venue for not providing sufficient space. I have had my knees bashed by reclining people thinking they are entitled not only to their own legroom but to mine.

    @getreal I paid for my seat too, and when your seat interferes with the use of my seat to the point of causing me pain we have a problem. A problem that a little courtesy and compromise can avoid. Its not your fault(as a recliner) or my fault (as a 6’4 guy) but the fault of the airlines who basically has said 3% of the US male population has no right to basic comfort on a long flight.

  • Ragnar

    I have used a very simple but effective trick to stop people from reclining their seat into my lap. When I sense they are about to recline I put my fist firmly against the back of their seat after I have allowed it to move back moderately. They usually struggle for awhile to recline it to the fullest but when their pushing behavior is not reinforced they usually stop trying after a minute or so. People usually do not have a sense regarding how far the seat can recline or just assume that something is wrong with the mechanism so they divert to other things.

  • I love this blog.. I HATE HATE people that recline their seats.. I was threatened on a Frontier flight when I got in a fight with the guy in front of me reclining his seat.. And it wasn’t just the seat..reclining.. his actual seat was broken.. and it extended another three inches past any other seat in the row.. I explained it to him.. and he said it was his right to recline and ignored the fact that his seat was broken. The flight attendant also ignored that fact and offered to relocate me. But I was traveling with wife and small child and she wasn’t able to relocate all three of us. I switched seats with son in the end.. but not before I was told I’d be arrested if I didn’t move my knees that were preventing that guy from fully extending his seat.

    No seats should recline. I don’t recline mine.. Maybe only in those nicer seats.. It’s not like an extra three inches of reclining makes or breaks a flight. You’re still sitting upright on a plane for two to three hours. Give us all a break! And “get real”.. it does invade your available space if you’re tall. The seat hits your knees and it makes using a laptop impossible. So yes.. it’s an invasion. Just say no to seat reclining.


  • Bob

    If someone puts their seat back, you should put yours back too and then you will have the same amount of space that was displaced. If everyone on the plane put their seat back right away, everyone has the same amount of space, AND they are all much more relaxed and comfortable being slightly reclined rather than rigidly and unnaturally upright.

  • Stop Whining

    This is one of the stupidest complaints I’ve ever heard. If you don’t like reclining seats – stop flying. The airlines are obviously not there for comfort, they’re only concerned with getting your from point A to point B
    If the seats reclines, the occupant has the right to recline it. he person behind them doesn’t have the right to act like a child and abuse the person for reclining

    Also, your comment stated that you’re a big guy – vertically and horizontally. Instead of complaining about seat configurations that will never change, why don’t you put your fork down and go to a gym. I guarantee you that’ll you fit in the seat better and you won’t be spilling into the seat next to you either.

    If anyone wants to make a valid complaint – tell the airlines to enforce the rule that obese people need to pay for 1st class or two coach seats. Obesity is certainly a problem that can be solved.

  • Tall Gal

    Get Knee Defenders, found on this site. I have them and they WORK. The rude person in front of me can never figure out why their seat will not recline, and I just smile and enjoy the space. I agree seats should not be permitted to recline, except on NIGHT flights when people sleep.

  • Geri

    You know what is amazing? Just by reading these comments you can tell the courteous people from the “All about Me!” people. Air Asia has the right idea. They know that most people don’t give a crap about anyone but themselves so they designed a seat that let them recline in their own space. They should do this on buses too!!

  • What about overnight flights? You can’t be serious about wanting everyone on the flight to sit bolt upright for hours in the dark. Courtesy goes a long way, and especially for short daytime flights it’s nice to be aware of the person behind you, but some flights are made for sleeping on.

  • kb

    My husband is 6’6″ and I am 5’11”. We dread flying. My husband had someone recline into him before who didn’t speak English so he couldn’t explain himself. My husband could only push back. The guy kept heaving backward and my husband kept his hand up to keep his knees from getting crushed. Finally his son noticed and said something to him to make him stop. I am willing to pay extra for more leg room. I am worried about getting blood clots from the tight squeeze my legs take.

  • Jared

    After recently reading about a passenger ripping another passengers ear because the seat was reclined, I am shocked to find that so many people take such an issue with this. Does anybody see how hypocritical this logic is? Why should your comfort take priority over the person’s in front of you? Much like the reasoning behind the new TSA screenings, you know what your getting yourself into by choosing to fly. It is unreasonable to think that somebody else shouldn’t be comfortable to satisfy your own comfort.

    I’m 6’3 and travel economy often, yes my legs touch the seat in front of me if i sit up straight, so you know what helps? I angle them a little sideways so that they’re not pressing against a seat, and after take off I recline my seat stretching my legs under the seat in front of me.

    If the person in front of you reclines their seat and is too close to you, simply recline yours as well and magically there’s an even distance again, plus you’ll have more leg room. And if you still worry about the person behind you, thats your choice but don’t think that the person in front of you should have to be uncomfortable when you still have the option of reclining as well and choose not to.

    You should use common sense when it comes to courtesy, yes you should hold the door for the person behind you at a store, but does that mean you should stand there for 5 minutes because people keep coming out? No, at some point you let them worry about opening the door themselves. So is it really being discourteous to worry about the person behind you for a 10 hour flight? People need to start realizing where you draw the line with manners and where you do what makes you happy.

    Also, saying that it’s an issue of using the tray is just ridiculous as well, I don’t know what airlines you are on, but I fly at least twice a month and have never not been able to set my drink on the tray even if the seat in front of me is reclined. If you really can’t figure out how to situate yourself to read your book without the seat in front of you being fully upright sounds like you have bigger problems, because I’m pretty sure it isn’t hard to put a book on your lap or even prop it on your legs against the chair. Again not really the other passenger’s responsibility to make sure you’re not inconvenienced when you can easily fix the situation and both be happy.

  • scott


  • Grumpier than you

    I hope I get the chance to sit in front of you during a long haul red-eye and slam my seat back so fast it will make your head spin.

  • otto

    This is a matter that also Airplanes designers and manufacturers should take into consideration.

    If the seats are “reclinable” is just because people need to “rest” when seating and flying for a period of time.
    Reclining the seats is for a more comfortable ride or even to get some sleep.

    If the guy in front of me does it I still have the chance to do the same and still keep the same distance from his seat.

    If I need to recline I WILL, as Most of the people in this world.

  • walale12

    When someone in front of me reclines, I put on my headphones and get my baby to cry as loud as he can, then I tell the recliner that unless he stops reclining the baby will cry in his ear for the whole flight.

  • polview

    Who raised you people who consider it a right to recline your seat as far back as it will go without regard for the person behind you – especially if he or she asks for you to moderate the recline? Common sense manners apply in these situations, as in ALL situations of interpersonal relations! In a nutshell: do unto others. Who can argue with this rationally?

  • Tall Traveler

    Banning reclining seats is a little extreme I would be all for changing the design of the seats to the seat cushion slides forward and leaves the top of the seat at its original position reducing the leg room for the person reclining their seat. That way my area where I am trying to work is not invaded, and they still get to recline. Being over 6’2 is hard enough on planes without having my leg room and working space reduced due to someone reclining their seat.

  • What about overnight flights? You can’t be serious about wanting everyone on the flight to sit bolt upright for hours in the dark. Sure, a little courtesy goes a long way, and especially for short daytime flights it’s nice to be conscious of the person behind you, but on a night flight where this is as close as a bed as you’re going to come, people deserve a chance to sleep.

  • Russ

    I think it probably makes sense that if the airlines are not going to allow enough space to recline, then they shouldn’t allow the seats to recline. But I think that everyone should have the option to recline if it is made available. I don’t consider it rude for the person in front of me to recline.

    I do however consider it rude that when they find momentary resistance that they just slam back harder, rather than checking what they are running into. I’ve had a couple of occasions where I was fearing my laptop or my legs would be broken by people who are inconsiderate. If they would just take a second to check what they are running into prior to shoving harder, I’m happy to rearrange.

  • Meridian

    I support the ban on reclining airline seats or a move to the above mentioned Air Asia style seats. On numerous occasions I’ve had the seat back forced against my knees and then had the passenger in front peer around to see what the blockage was and scowled at me when my already in pain knees were revealed as the blockage. On one instance the passenger ‘bounced’ against the seat back in an effort to force the seat back further. For the record, it is no one’s right to inflict discomfort upon another. Additionally, a reclined seat makes it impossible for the tray to be used, magazine pocket to be accessed, and bags stored under the seat to be accessed all of which I have paid to have use of. Further, reclined seats by the isle block a whole row from getting to the isle. Safety implications aside, it’s darn difficult to use the lavatory if you can’t leave your row. As far as the thought that ‘My seat can recline so I it’s my right to recline”, I have two questions. Your car has the ability to exceed the speed limit, should you? If having the button grants the ‘right’ to recline then wouldn’t a seat with no button remove the issue? But bottom line, a callous disregard for pain, discomfort and inconvenience caused to someone else is wrong.

  • Chuck

    I’m another one who never reclines my seat out of respect for the person behind me. To you rude recliners: that area in front of me is MY personal space, not yours just because your seat reclines. I paid for the use of the tray table, which I cannot use for my laptop or book or meal when your seat is reclined. The fact that the seat WILL recline doesn’t mean you HAVE to recline, and you really don’t need it. I seriously wonder how you ninnies get through a movie in a theater where the seats don’t recline. Does it hurt?

    I have developed a technique for dealing with those rude boors who insist on their “right” to recline. When they first drop back into my lap, I tap them on the shoulder and ask if they’d mind going back up a bit — just a few inches. “Can we split the difference?” is what I ask them.

    If they do, then great, we’re both compromising, and I let it go. If they don’t, then they have a very uncomfortable flight, with me sneezing on them, “accidentally” banging the back of their seat every few minutes, and so on. And if they still haven’t compromised with me after an hour or so, then I spill a drink on their head.

    You be rude, I’ll be ruder.

  • TomM

    I am 6’3″ and recently traveled to Hawaii. One of my flights was 5+ hours spent in coach with the seat in front of me fully reclined. I am still, almost 3 months later, experiencing pain in my upper legs that I’m pretty sure is a result of irritating a nerve in my lower back from being so cramped for so long.

    A ban is unrealistic, but I appreciate you raising the issue. Unfortunately, with the airlines looking to squeeze every last penny, and the ever-increasing self-centeredness of the average American, we have found ourselves in this situation.

    I find the total lack of human decency expressed in many of the previous comments to be appalling.

  • Alex

    I have read a few of you blog posts and although i agree with some of gripes I have to disagree strongly with your gripe about leaning the seat back. Now I say everything with respect and do not mean to call out your heft as an insult, but… when i buy an economy ticket I know what I will be getting… packed in a tin like a sardine, but with that ticket i also get a chair that reclines, you also get a chair that reclines and if i so choose I can recline that chair. It really isn’t my fault that you are a large man is it? If you dont like the amenities that you are getting in economy then upgrade to a higher class but otherwise, as long as airlines allow the seat to recline one shouldn’t have to worry about the guy behind him. This really introduces a cascade of problems, lets say the guy in front of me reclines, then i recline into you and you object(verbally and/or forcefully) and make me put my chair up… now I have to suffer with the limited space because the guy in front of me reclined coupled with the fact i cannot recline? I either have to tell the guy in front of me to move up or just deal with it… what if im non-confrontational and dont want to say anything or they dont listen…. I have to suffer because of you???? I dont think so pal! So the way i see it, its all or nothing. Either everyone should be able to do it or no one should.

  • I totally agree, at least regarding domestic flights. It is not only rude, it is usually unannounced, and on more than one occasion a lurching-back reclinee has shoved my laptop into my spleen. I usually retaliate by coughing, sneezing, and generally doing anything I can to get that person to give me back my minimal space. For those of you who say I should just recline, too–no, I won’t be an ass to the person behind me. Thanks.

  • po

    I’m a big boy, vertically and horizontally… … I hate anyone who thinks that they have the right to invade my personal space by reclining their seat back!”

    How big are you? How far does your “personal space” extend? is your “personal space” spilling over the arm rest? Does you “personal space” have its own gravitational pull? Does your”personal Space” block the entire aisle during boarding. The airlines treat you like cattle cause you are the same size as cattle. I hate anyone whose “personal space” is is measured in acres. How bout that?

  • Dave B.

    Ban the recliner seats. I had my laptop cracked when a guy quickly reclined. It about started a fight.

  • po

    “It should be legal to bash the head of the reclining passenger with the book” It should also be legal to cut fat people into smaller pieces that can be stored in the overhead compartment.


    Flying these days isnt pleasant to say the least. If I pay for a seat and wish to recline my seat during my flights… I will do so. They certainly dont recline much anyway. If someone behind me has a problem with it. Too Bad. This issue is a waste of time. Im more concerned with the smucks who board the plane and place carryon luggage in overhead bins at the front of the plane then go back to the rear of the aircraft. Now anyone seated in the forward rows cant find a place to put anything. Board by rows and put your own darn carryon luggage above your own seat.

  • You Will Be Sorry

    Try to recline and if I am sitting behind you, well you better be ready for an uncomfortable flight. I will be constantly shoving my knees in your back. I will stand up and use the toilet every 30 minutes, making sure I grab the back of your seat and yank it every time. I will make your flight a living hell for making my flight hell. I may even get up to get stuff from the overhead bin numerous times, and by the way, I will make sure to poke and prod your bag in the hopes that I brake something. I will act like I have a cold and sneeze without covering my mouth and lean just enough that it goes all over you.

  • Maha

    This is a matter of ethics. People are greedy and insensitive. They don’t take into consideration that others also have feelings and needs too. If you want to be a jerk and recline your seat all the way down on every flight that’s your prerogative, but watch out for karma, what comes around goes around. Next time you need someone to move for you because you need it, it might not happen.

  • Travis

    As a business traveler, I am with you! End the reclining seat!

    Otherwise, I will “use the space I paid for” by clearing my throat very loudly, singing off key, and shuffling violently in my seat every ten minutes.

  • deltaGOLDflyer

    Sorry but you are 100% wrong. I paid for my seat. If you do not have room pay for BIZ or 1st. End of story!

  • Kara Harkins

    As someone almost 6’3″ someone reclining a seat ranks up there with why I do not like flying.

    Not curling myself into a ball does not give them much of a choice though about reclining their seat. It hits my knees and they have leg bones behind them all the way to my seat back. So the seat does not go back and suddenly 2 bumps are pushing against anything that leans back. Two can play the ‘I could care less about your comfort’ game.

  • Rachel

    I love all the comments on here saying things like “if you don’t like me reclining my seat” IF?? Who likes someone reclining their seat in front of them. Technically it’s your privilege to recline, but that doesn’t mean it’s polite or considerate. It’s just like playing loud music on a bus, just because it’s not against any rules doesn’t make it any less rude.

    Besides, leaning your seat back hardly makes you more comfortable, but it makes the people behind you- no matter what size they are- considerably less comfortable. Suck it up and sit up straight like an adult.

  • Tim 2x4

    I’m a frequent flyer. I’m 6′ and I’m a 245 body builder. I hope someday I’m sitting in front of you.
    Get help dude.

  • Dave

    Ban all reclining seats on airlines, because it is the only reasonable solution. I spend hours with the filthy hair of the person in front of me six inches from my nose. It’s gross, inconsiderate, and, yes, an invasion of my space. Better yet take a relaxing ride on Amtrak and avoid the hassles, delays, and abuse of air travel.

  • […] “I don’t recline my seat, primarily because I have respect for the person behind me, and I simply hate it when the person in front of me shifts their seat as far back as it will go,” Collins recently vented in a blog entry titled “Ban the reclining seat on planes.” […]

  • Phat A$$

    Lose some weight Girthy Grump!

  • Suckers

    People want to complain that the greedy airlines are attempting cram more seats into planes to make more money, but the fact of the matter is that 30 years ago, you couldn’t buy a plane ticket for $89. You could travel more comfortably, and believe me I did, but a plane ticket was considerably more expensive adjusted for inflation.

    Today, the reclining seats of the 80’s have met the cramped spaces of the millenium, leading to the aforementioned conflict. Unless you’re willing to shell out for a first class ticket, where space is more readily available, you waive your right to complain about seatbacks descending into your knees as part of the common chattel.

  • Sarah

    I agree wholeheartedly on this.

    Whenever I am on a flight and the seat comes down in front of me, I will always politely ask the person to put it back up. I’m always told to put mine down too, and that “we’re all on the plane together”. Yes it’s easy for the person taking my space to talk about compromise.

    Your extra 3 inches of reclining space means 3 inches less in front of my face. This isn’t up for debate, it’s a fact with the way most seats work. Yes, it’s a bad situation – I’m sorry that your comfort has to come at the expense of mine, but I paid for my seat, too. Not seat minus three inches.

  • Dave Hennessy

    I could not AGREE more! as a regular traveler including international flight I never recline my seat. In the old days with more space it was fine but no longer.There is nothing more annoying than the rude moron in front of you slamming his seat back on you as soon as the plane lifts its wheels up. Its the same idiot who arrives with the huge carry on and fills up the overhead bin. Also the same moron who immediately pops up to get his stuff when we land and is usually blocking others from getting on the plane itself because he heard that preboarding is happening and doesn’t want to miss his moment to board. A theme? yes. Rude ignorant people.

  • […] allowed to recline their seats in airplanes so much so that he is calling for a move to actually ban reclining seats in commercial airlines at […]

  • Silly

    I understand that reclining seats can be annoying and uncomfortable. However, on a long flight, having that three inches of recline makes all the difference, especially for someone tall like me (6ft+). One thing that does annoy me is when people violently recline their seats back…so a polite thing to do is to do it slowly so that the person behind doesn’t wake up with their drink in their lap.

  • Jim

    Are you serious? Dude, being an old fart doesn’t mean you have to be a spiteful jerk. The plane wasn’t built just for YOUR comfort. Just because you don’t like how the plane was engineered does not automatically give you the moral high ground when it comes to your comfort vs another persons comfort.

    Why do old people like you have to be so childish?

  • Major Flyer

    Steve — your name says it all: Grumpy.

    Your argument should NOT be with the flyer in front of you but, rather, with the airline. If I am sitting in front of you in a seat with the capability to recline than that space is mine: bought and paid for. I frequently fly – 100,000+ miles per year — and many of those flights are well over 5 hours. It is simply not reasonable to expect people to sit for that long and NOT recline their seats.

    Now lets move to a different but related issue — people who spill out of their allocates space because of ‘excess baggage’. The fact is that the only times I have had problems with people behind me objecting to me reclining my chair is their size has been a factor. Again, this is not my responsibility and nor is it, for that matter, the airlines. Have a bigger seat? Buy a bigger seat.

  • BrotherG

    Cathay Air does it right. The portion of the seat that your butt is on moves forward while the back doesn’t move. It works really well and should become the new standard.

  • Chris

    I’m right behind you, Steve (thanks for not reclining you seat, by the way).

    I’m another poor sod who’s 6’5″, and tired of sitting with my knees next to my ears on airplanes. I was brought up to be considerate to all around me, so I don’t recline. I can’t afford first class, so I’m resigned to 9 hours of misery when the person in front slams the seat into my lap as soon as the fasten seatbelt light goes out.

  • Eric

    I’m 6’4″ also, with long legs for my height. On many airlines, I have to sit with my knees as far sideways as I can just to fit in the seat. I used to try to get exit row or bulkhead seats .. until they started charging exorbitant additional fees for them, and the smaller aircraft that are taking over domestic routes don’t have as many bulkhead seats. I’m also often I’m travelling with (well behaved) kids, so I can’t use the exit rows anyway.

    On a flight about three years ago the guy in front of me insisted on reclining his seat, when my knees were already against it sitting sideways as I described above. I literally had nowhere to go, even if I had wanted to. I tried to point that out to him politely, but it nearly turned into an air-rage incident as this guy went nuts slamming his seat back into my knees. Which I defended myself against by putting my knees straight and bracing them against the back of his seat so he couldn’t get any momentum into it. I think he was about to get up and say or do something rash, but luckily a stewardess happened to see this going on and came up and told him to knock it off. He still made a point of trying to recline or slam my knees the remainder of the 4 hour flight. I don’t fly nearly as much as I used to.

    In any case, they’ve got to do something. Either increase the space between seats or ban seats that recline at the top. Those seats that recline by moving the seat forward sound perfect – if you want to recline, you give up your own leg room to do it. If they stop treating people like cattle, maybe more people would fly.

  • Dave Bloss

    When I purchase my seat it include the “air space” associated with it. Just like your home property, if a tree from a neighbors yard has branches that overlap into your property, the “branch” is in your airspace. Thus, if you recline are you entering “my space”?
    Just like ashtrays, ban the reclining seat on all short-haul flights.

  • Shawna

    I’m with Grumpy. I don’t recline my seat b/c I don’t want to be the arse like the person that is reclining their seat in my lap. As evidenced by some of the comments here, the problem is that people are just selfish and think that since they paid for something that it gives them some sort of entitlement that supersedes common decency, or just plain common sense. Obviously we all know how little room there is on planes, so it doesn’t take a genius to know that reclining your seat when someone is sitting behind you encroaches on their space.

  • Doug

    Hehe…you should change your middle name from “Grumpy” to “Crybaby”. 🙂

  • Randy

    Please let me know when you fly next so I can get the seat in front of you. Your likely a cheapskate that would never pay for first/business class, but for some reason think you deserve that extra space. You probably think you deserve everything for free.

    Some suggestions
    pay for first class
    don’t fly

    the person is using space they paid for, its not your space to begin with

  • Chris Sly

    You do realize that some passengers with bad backs can only tolerate flying because they are able to take the pressure off their lower spine by putting their seats back. Sitting in a relining position also helps to stop blood clots forming in the legs.

    If you want to suggest something sensible, start a web protest site to stop airlines from cramming their passengers into planes like sardines. That will go a long way to stop air rage.

  • Rob

    Or order 2 seats chubs….

  • Rich

    Sorry pal! I ALWAYS recline my seat when I fly. I paid for it and it helps me relax. If it wasn’t allowed then the airline (pick whichever one you like) would have their mechanics simply disable the recline button. I’m 6′ tall and don’t mind when people recline in front if me. It’s not my problem if you’re too tall or fat to sit in a coach/economy seat comfortably – consider saving up to ride up front in first class……….or go on a diet!

  • Rich

    BTW, it’s not a sense of “entitlement or being selfish”….it’s a airline ticket not a social experiment – a simple business transaction. You want to vent your frustration trying directing it at the airline NOT the passenger in front of you – becasue with enough complaints who knows, maybe the airline you target will adjust the legroom in the fleet. American Airlines did this a few years back. Beats the alternative of getting arrested for creating a “conflict” with the passenger in front of you…….

  • Harry

    I travel long distacnce from Asia to US. Its 20 + hours of travel. the last part of it will be a US domestic flight. I need to recline my seats. After 20 hours of flight i need to rest and cant show any sympathy to person behind. I am sorry .I paid for it. And I am travelling over night . I cant explain all this to my fellow passengers. So adjust and rember that I paid for reclining seats.You want to vent your frustration trying directing it at the airline NOT the passenger in front of you . Or use a business class which will have more room even if the person in front reclines.

  • Tall Gal

    Mr. Grumpy I’m with you all the way. I am tall (not heavy) and find the intrusion of someone pushing their seat back more than an inch or so to be intrusive, rude, and unfair. Some have commented that they paid for the seat with the button and have the right to use it. However if you think about it this way – a person putting their seat back is giving themselves MORE space by taking it away from the person in the seat behind them. In effect – they are stealing. The person being intruded upon paid the same amount for their seat yet they end up with less space and the person putting the seat back ends up with more space – how is THAT fair? And yes – I keep my seat upright to within an inch of full upright – including on flights lasting 5+ hour – UNLESS IT IS A NIGHT FLIGHT. That’s a whole different story as people are expected to sleep on a night flight.
    Mr. Grumpy the answer is this: some people simply have no manners, no ethics, and no class. We who DO consider others can only voice our opinions to the airlines and hope the new style seats catch on with all the airlines so those who wish to recline can do so without taking space from others.
    Also – I’m seeing comments here that Mr. Grumpy should lose weight – hey – how about the person who feels a NEED to put their seat back losing some weight? I’d say they are the pigs no matter what their size!

  • Rich

    Okay, so now it’s “stealing” to recline your seat. You’ve got to be out of your mind “Tall Gal”! I would love to recline my seat in front of you……but then I would be called a “pig”…….now WHO has “no manners, no ethics and no class”……..

  • Rich

    I love this debate! Okay what’s NEXT? Turning on your overhead light or opening up your overhead vent will be prohibited because it bothers others?

    Next it will be you can’t get out of your seat to go to the bathroom because it will bother the people sitting in your row…..especialy on a night flight because according to “Tall Gal”; “people are expected to sleep” and you’ve just woken them up! We can’t have that now can we……..get over it!

  • the chemist

    I would LOVE it if this were to happen to me! I can’t wait. Maybe I’ll pull the lucky seat and get to watch some freak and his “air space” try to stop me from my RECLINE:o) The fact that I would be able to watch one of you “recline haters” put into “cuffs” and disposed of by the police would be fantastic! I would follow you (while in cuffs and with the police directing you)… I would heckle you if possible… I would take it all in with a big smile. I would enjoy watching you questioned by the police because you had a s__t fit — all because someone decided to recline the seat. I love it! BUT… and it’s a big but… if you were very tall ans simply asked me in a pleasant tone… I would probably say “OKAY”…

  • Murph

    Why would you think that is your personal space? It’s my personal space you think I am not entitled to. My personal space is wherever the seat I sit in will go. If anyone is so big that reclining a seat for what? 4 inches tops? that it is going to make them uncomfortable, I think that person needs to fly first or buy an extra seat.

  • Churk

    This debate has been informative for me. I thought the knuckleheads reclining in front of me were just clueless and I gave them the benefit of the doubt, but judging from the responses in this thread I see they’re probably really just selfish a**holes.

    From now on, I’m not going to be nearly so nice about defending MY space when you flop back into it. Hot drinks will be spilled, elbows will accidentally be thrown on the way to the lavatory, things will accidentally be dropped on your head as I retrieve items out of the overhead luggage bin. But I’ll be discreet about it so I won’t end up in handcuffs. And when the flight is over … I’ll follow you out of the airport and really teach you a lesson.

  • Moderator – Sorry about the double posting. I tried to post yesterday and today with one of your listed HTML tags for an embedded link and nothing showed up at all. Not “awaiting moderation” or anything else. Again, sorry.

  • Churk

    P.S. I hope I end up behind Rich on a flight. I’ll make sure I get *my* money’s worth out of his right to be a jerk.

    Hey Rich, do you also use the inflatable life vest under your vest, the oxygen mask in the overhead panel, and the ashtray in the armrest? You paid for all those too!

  • I think both sides have good points and bad points.

    For those who would ban reclining seats saying it interferes with their comfort, have you considered the comfort of the person reclining the chair? If you want them to consider yours, then you should consider theirs! What if it is a scared or very tired child who needs to sleep? What if it is a person with a breathing issue who needs the reclined position to breathe comfortably? What if the person reclining their chair has a back injury or some other type of condition that causes them pain if they sit up right for any length of time, should they be in pain or injure themselves to make sure you aren’t inconvenienced? In the same vein, they should also take your comfort into account. The key is polite communication and compromise.

    For those who are tall and who think that overweight people should have to purchase bigger seats. If you believe that someone who is bigger should have to spend the extra money to make themselves and others comfortable, then you should apply the same logic to yourself. You know that you will not fit comfortably into a regular airline seat and that you may have a passenger who reclines in front of you, so you either buy a regular seat and understand what you are getting into, or you buy a seat you will be comfortable in. I understand that being tall is not something you can help, but again, the people in front of you have as much right to comfort as you do. Should tall people be banned from sitting in seats where they prevent seats from being reclined? It is the same argument.

    I do agree that the seats that move forward to recline are a much better option all around and should be implemented.

    I also agree that people who slam their chairs back quickly, refuse to compromise, continually slam their chair into someone’s knees or belongings, etc. are very rude and should not do so, but so are the people who prevent chairs from reclining, kick, knee, or otherwise retaliate. Do unto others goes both ways. If someone makes you uncomfortable, it is not your right to retaliate and make them uncomfortable as well. You sink down to their level and take on the exact attitude that you despise so very much.

    Again, until the airlines give each passenger enough room to do what ever they like, the key is polite communication and compromise on both sides. There will always be rude people out there and times that are not the most pleasant, but attitude and compassion will help.

  • Ruby

    While you might have a point on domestic flights, I disagree when we are talking about longer distances. I fly to Europe regularly on business and 8-10 hours bolt upright in my seat is torture. Just a few inches of recline is a lifesaver when I need to get a little sleep because I’m going right from the airport to the office.

    There are many things you have the right to do, but pouring a drink on my head or banging your knees into my seat like an overgrown toddler aren’t on the list.

  • Air Travelers Meet Tort Law: Battery by Reclining Seat

    A lawyer’s view on the issue… given the arrest and criminal charge against a man who resisted a seat being reclined into him.

  • Chuck

    Even grumpy folks needs to take a minute to cool their blood pressure and recognize that reclining seats are there for a reason. If full recline is inappropriate then the airlines should adjust the degree of recline. Folks looking to recline could also voluntarily limit how much they recline, especially when they note a larger person in the seat behind. I find a modest level of reclining almost a necessity and that what I pay for. If that’s intolerable to some, then buy a business/first class ticket.

  • LeeAnne

    I have a herniated disk in my lower back. I find it extremely painful to sit fully upright. I require my seat to recline in order to not be IN PAIN.

    Sorry you’re big. But your weight problem is not MY problem, and shouldn’t cause me physical pain.

    I paid for my seat, including all of its features and functions. If the seat reclines, then that feature is one I paid for, and I’m entitled to use it. My “personal space” is the space that is occupied by my seat, with me in it. If my seat reclines, then that space is MINE, not yours, and you have no right to deny me the use of it.

    If you’re too hefty to comfortably sit in one seat, then buy two. Or go on a diet. But don’t deny ME the full use, and range of motion, of the seat that I paid for. You are allowed your space, and I am allowed mine. You’re not allowed yours AND mine.

  • Tawny

    Anyone who doesn’t mind reclining seats isn’t 5″10 and up. Seriously people – can you not sit up in your seat for the length of a flight???
    If I were given the choice I would DEFINITELY choose to fly an airline that does not have reclining seats.

  • Blunt

    To those who think they have paid for their reclining space, don’t fool yourselves! Your airfare ticket will cost the same whether your set reclines or not.

  • Tommy John

    All these years and I thought I was the only person extremely aggravated by this!!! I couldn’t agree more with the comment about why I should put up with someone’s head in my lap because they haven’t learned to sit up straight!

  • Tom

    I agree. Either they need to add 8 inches of legroom or ban the reclining seats. Not only is it uncomfortable to have someone’s head in your face, but it is potentially deadly because it restricts leg movement and the ability to get in and out. This can lead to deep vein thrombosis. The airlines know this and still create the situation.

    I despise the dehumanizing, irritating, cattle car experience of commercial aviation.

  • Tom

    I read where a series of wet sloppy sneezes works really well when the back of someone’s head is in your face. These things come on really quick and they can’t be avoided. Could be caused by allergy to dandruff or stinky hair.

  • kate

    I am 5’4″ and 135. I HATE seat recliners. I never recline my seat due to the “do unto others” principal. I think seats should only recline by having your seat bottom move forward. If you want to suck up your own precious knee space to recline, so be it. But keep your seat back out of my space.

  • John

    If you don’t like it don’t fly… that would save a lot of problems if people would not fly… Or better yet.. pay more to have your own space!

  • Guest

    This is a joke. If your ass can’t fit the seats on the airplane, then it’s your problem. You make an idiot excuse to protect your space, while your big ass already occupies other people’s space. I hate people like you on any airplane. You are such a made-in-USA idiot.

  • James

    I detest reclining seats, that’s why I sometimes deliberately puke, on their head.

  • jlannefeld

    People who choose to recline their seats the moment the aircraft lifts off and invade the diminutive space of their fellow passengers are rude,inconsiderate oafs and those of you who defend these people are equally as bad. The airlines are in business to soak the consumer and not interested in personal comfort. My answer is very simple, driving everywhere that is at all feasible.

  • Haliflyer

    I cant believe how ignorant some people can be.. Lose weight? go on a diet? How the heck can a tall person diet to become shorter? If the person behind you is jammed in there because they have long legs, twisted sideways and neatly tucked into the corner by he window as it is, try having a little respect. Its not that persons fault they are TALL, and have long legs. Size isnt always a weight problem you know.

    Its your right? really? When you buy a ticket do you pick the option for reclining seat? No, you buy a seat and its whatever seat happens to be in that slot. YES, most CAN recline, but the problem with most people today is nobody cares about anyone but themselves. You are all basically saying tall people fly first class or shut up, why not all you a$$holes that need to recline fly first class and and let the “peons” have their 3 inchs of space? WHat you “purchase” is a ticket to fly, and feature of the seat or not, all it takes is common sense and a little bit of respect.

    “This is a joke. If your ass can’t fit the seats on the airplane, then it’s your problem. You make an idiot excuse to protect your space, while your big ass already occupies other people’s space. I hate people like you on any airplane. You are such a made-in-USA idiot.”

    You sir, are a class A jacka$$. I flew a 5 hour flight to Mexico with the back of a seat literally 4 inchs from my face with my knees basically folded under the window while the person in front of me reclined all the way even though they had the exit row with no seat in front of them so they had 5 feet of leg room. Im 6’5″, you telling me I should go on a diet for that? Because some inconsiderate pr*ck wanted to basically lay down on a full plane? a$$hole.

  • Haliflyer

    I emplore every traveller who cant stand these inconsiderate seat slangers to purchase this travel accessory..

  • AmyEmilia

    I fly a lot. And, I don’t recline my seat. Good manners include consideration for others.

    I also make it a point to check out SeatGuru and find the rows where there is limited/no recline in the row in front of my chosen row. When possible I chose an exit row but there are a few other spots where there will be no reclining seat in front of me (bulkhead comes to mind).

  • sumi

    loose some weight & this reclining will stop being such a big problem.

  • Jay Pea55

    Since the airline charge for everything else.. Perhaps a hieght or weight tax!! Your ticket price could be based on your mass. You’ve all heard of an access baggage charge.. how about an excess mass charge. The plane would be split into 1st class, business class, premium economy, excess economy, and regular economy.
    Over last few years I’ve noticed that economy seat area is proporional to the size of the natives. Philipine Airlines has very small economy seats compared to American Airlines. So only fly with an airline in a country that has obese natives.

  • Nicholas Robinson

    Well, it’s ludicrous. But I’m not particularly big: 5/9, 165, but I have a small laptop and I can’t even open it past 90 degrees when the schlub in front of me just reclines into my face. What you could always do is wait till it’s night and they’re a sleep and cut some of their hair off.

  • B Thompson

    Airlines know this will cause potential problems with their cramed,narrow seats.While most passengers arevery thoughtful it only takes one inconsiderate spoiled jerk to cause a problem

  • Clara

    I’m with you and I’m NOT big or tall. Unfortunately, the person reclining the seat in front of me often is. So their weight forces the seat back down even farther into my face. Sure, people can claim they have the *right* to do that – and technically, they do. But once someone is that rude, they’ve forfeited any claim on my courtesy. I will not go to great lengths to avoid kicking the seat when I have to shift positions, or get up to use the lavatory, or need to fish an aspirin out of my purse. btw, reclining the seat also makes it nearly impossible to reach your belongings under the seat in front of you.

  • Jhan

    I have for years felt the same about reclining seats, I used to only move it an inch at most until the following incident. Several years ago me and my wife was stuck in the middle of a four passenger row and my seat was broke. Every time the plane moved, I would fly back into the guy behind me. I asked the flight attendant, British Airways BTW, for anything I could jam into the seat to make it stop; was ignored. I kept apologizing to the poor guy behind me but the FA basically told me to deal with it. When we had dinner I took the knife and jammed it into the hinge. The FA asked me where my knife at the end of service was and I told her where I had shoved it and she could have it back after we landed in 6 hours. She got huffy and went and got the head steward; he came to talk with me. When I explained and the guy behind explained he turned around and chewed out the FA for ignoring the problem and said it was bloody ingenious I had figured out how to fix it. The FA would not make eye contact the rest of the way but it was worth it! But since then, I leave it well enough alone and leave it in the upright and locked position.

  • David

    Cry me a river. It’s simple. You want more room? Pay for it. Buy a business class ticket.

    It’s an airplane, not an ocean liner. You got what you paid for, and one of the features of the seat you paid for is the ability to recline it. Why on earth would the button be on *every* seat if it weren’t meant to be used?

    There is nothing rude about reclining one’s seat. It is a feature of the seat and ticket each passenger paid for.

    I’m betting every idiot on this thread that says it’s rude or that passengers who recline are “spoiled,” flies less than once a year. Get a clue.

  • Spencer

    Reclining seats is a right and those of you who think negatively of it need to get over it. I fly over 120K mile every year. If you let the little slights and annoyances of travel get to you you will die at an early age from stress.

    But after reading the comments here I will be sure to recline my seat every time I fly. I have never seen such self-entitled, bitchy little people who think that space is actually “theirs”.
    If you are a large person or just plain intolerant, why don’t you pay for first class – or better yet – don’t fly at all. The last thing we need are more referees. The seats recline so get over it.

    I seldom even notice when someone reclines their seat in front of me, that’s what the seats do… They recline.

    The negative attitudes of the people posting on this site are the reason why air travel can be so draining. Self-entitled little whiners who don’t realize that being in coach is just that… Coach. Get over it and when I recline my seat, just know that some part of me will be hoping it pisses one of you off.

  • Okay – i’m not opposed to this ruling. Banning the reclining shouldn’t be an issue. The problem is, there isn’t enough room on these airplanes for people to sit! A fact well known, airlines cram like a can of tuna as many people in these planes as possible! Its a wonder why more conflict doesn’t take place. Ban the reclining, but have fewer seats so people can be comfortable.

  • John

    I recline. I am probably one of the few that can actually sleep in a reclined seat and some seats are very uncomfortable in the upright position. Unfortunately it is no one’s fault if the person behind them is tall or big or has a huge notebook computer or whatever. It’s a feature of the seat. I also sit in a window seat and I control the window shade. If I happen to get an aisle, I might ask the window seat guy to pull the shade down but he has the final call. That’s just part of flying and not about courtesy. I DO agree that some airlines have packed the seats in way too tight and that’s not fair to anyone. There should be a reasonable amount of room to allow the seat recline without banging the knees of the person in back. Or just remove the seat recline feature, sure. If the ability to recline the seat is gone, then it’s no longer an issue. I would miss it, but as long as that’s the way the seat is sold, I’d live with it.

  • I thought I would put my 2 cents in on this. I’m disabled, 40 years old, and before I was hurt I was a gym rat, so I don’t look disabled. I also fly often for back treatments. I’m a gold medallion member who is often upgraded but has flown economy a lot. When I recline, it is not to be rude but because I am in pain, and I need those extra few inches of reclining space in order to be reasonably comfortable, not induce a migraine and throw up all over the place, and have as good a flight as possible. While I do understand it’s some peoples’ pet peeve, please also understand that some of us need to recline for medical reasons, and although we don’t always look ill, we are. I don’t want to turn around and explain to a stranger why I’m reclining. I’m always courteous to people, but when the plane takes off, I recline. There are web sites that suggest seats without reclining seats in front of them, and there are upgrades available for all travelers. Even jet blue offers extra leg room seats for a small fee, which I usually pinch for if I’m flying them. While I don’t expect this to change your mind about being upset next time it happens, perhaps you might be at least a little more understanding that not everybody is being rude. Some of us are just beat up inside and need that extra bit of comfort. And in my opinion, I’d rather fly a thousand flights with the person in front of me reclined than the one I flew last year with the man who hadn’t bathed and had body odor like I’ve never smelled in my life. He was seated next to me on a full plane and there was nothing I could do but stick my head in my shirt and hope not to puke.

  • Jill

    I’m very sorry I was such a bitch to the woman in sitting in front of me yesterday. She was in an exit row with extra leg room, yet insisted on reclining during the 4 hour flight. I purposely kicked her seat, and was generally unpleasant to her. I acted like a 12 year old. I wish I could apoligize to her for my actions. I don’t want to be a mean person.

  • Phil

    I am over 6ft and my legs barely fit between the seats. When someone reclines the back of their seat pushes on my knees. Every time I move they feel it. Uncomfortable for both of us and a source of anger for them. Stiff

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