December 11, 2019
reclining seats on planes

Ban Reclining seats on planes

I’d ban reclining seats on planes if I were an airline executive. The reclining seat is one of the scourges of modern aviation.

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.

Let me make it clear, my view to ban reclining seats on planes refers just to the back section, in the area the airlines call either economy or coach, depending on which part of the world you travel.

Business and First Class sections, and also Premium Economy, have allowed plenty of space for seats to recline, so it is not such a problem in those sections.

I also acknowledge that if you are on a flight of over three hours duration or a midnight horror, you may need to adjust your seat. However, anyone should be able to sit up straight for any flight under three hours.

For me, that selfish oaf in front of you who simply reclines their seat without any thought to the person behind them is simply a mindless, uncaring space invader.  A real-life Depth Vader.  Because they arrogantly take up the space that the passenger behind has paid to occupy.

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?

I know there will be people who’ll say “If you don’t want a reclining seat, why don’t you pay to sit in business?”

Firstly, I can’t always afford to sit in business, but that’s not the real problem. The cause of my, and others, angst is that seat pitch – the distance between the seats – has been declining as airlines cram more seats into cabins.  This does cause more hindrance to passengers. For every inch of seat pitch, the airlines have stolen reclining seats do become an obstruction.

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.

So, why would airlines reduce pitch, yet still allow seats with narrower spaces to still recline?  To be fair, not all airlines are guilty, as Spirit Airlines, in the US, is getting rid of its reclining seats and Southwest is looking to follow this trend. There are other budget airlines, such as AirAsia in which reclining is very limited or non-existent.

A separate survey for CabinCrew.com said the majority of international cabin crew had witnessed a dispute between passengers over reclining seats. Airlines shouldn’t purchase them in the first place.  The airlines treat us like cattle so they shouldn’t give us accoutrements like reclining seats. Then we can also behave like cattle.

Although, I do have a solution that would guarantee airlines taking passenger discomfort seriously and perhaps ban reclining seats on planes.

Governments should legislate to put a meter on each seat.

The person behind each seat would swipe the meter with their credit card each time it was reclined. The meter would start ticking away, refunding part of the inconvenienced passenger’s fare for each minute the seat in front was invading their space.

With that system in place, I would imagine that we’d see the end of the reclining seat almost overnight.

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