Delta Air Lines Passenger Unleashes On Anti-Seat Recline Vigilante In The Row Behind Her

A Delta Air Lines passenger reclined her seat, and the woman behind her – she says – began pushing her seat back throughout the rest of the flight. In response, she didn’t ask for help from a flight attendant. Instead she… began yelling at the woman behind her. And another passenger caught it on video.

The passengers behind the woman denied pushing her seat and that just drove the her to the brink, publicly defending her right to recline. It was the end of the flight though, so the battle went on silently until she just couldn’t take it anymore.

Seat recline is important for passengers on long flights with poorly-padded seats. Recline works to distribute passenger weight and reduce back stress. This passenger looks fairly slight. But reclining is also a basic right when it’s a feature of your seat (certain airlines like Spirit and Frontier feature seats they call “pre-reclined” i.e. that do not recline).

  • A passenger controls their own seat
  • Airlines ban the Knee Defender device, which prevents recline – a device was designed to stop reclining. While their interest is prevent damage to the seat, they do not allow the passenger seated behind to interfere with the recline function

There is an etiquette to exercising your right to recline, though. Don’t recline during mealtime. Try not to recline unless it serves a real purpose (if it doesn’t actually benefit your comfort, don’t recline).

If you don’t want the passenger in front of you to recline, politely ask them not to. And if they want to recline and you don’t want them to, consider whether it’s worth your while to make not reclining worth their while.

(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I had my head down on the tray table sleeping when the lesson in from off me decided they wanted to recline. When the seat didn’t easily go back you know since my head was there. The lady threw her while body weight back into the seat. The seat finally moved except it slammed into my head and ended up giving me a concussion. If the seat doesn’t go back easily check before you slam backwards.

  2. The real problem is the airlines. Delta & SouthWest are the two I fly most often and every other row of seats on both those airlines should be removed. The close proximity of seats today may work fine if the entire flight consists of short children, but the majority of flights include adults, many of whom are over 6 feet in height

  3. The worst recline that ever happened to me was a flight from SFO to LHR. The guy in front of me reclined pretty much after takeoff. Then he got up. He didn’t return to his seat until we were on approach to Heathrow. Not only did I suffer a reclined seat for the whole flight but he didn’t even use it. For all I know, he sat somewhere else on the plane.

  4. I would have asked the person sitting next to him. Please put the seat up and if they didn’t want to then I would do it myself. If he did come back he could always push it back.

  5. If you fly on a budget airline or in catle class then you should expect 2 things.
    1,hardly any leg room.
    2,if the seats have a recline option then people will use it and if it’s part of the chair design then the function will be used.
    If you don’t want the hassle then pay the extra and site up front where the grown-ups sit.

  6. If the seat reclines then I’m going to recline it. I paid for the seat and if you don’t like people reclining then don’t fly or pay for a seat that doesn’t have someone reclining in front of you. If someone does recline their seat you can ask them politely to ease it forward some and if they want to do it then great. But if they don’t then there’s still no reason to act childish as it will only get the person reclining to be more determined in their desire to keep the seat back. I specifically pay extra to sit in certain seats and places on a plane and I do it for a reason since it’s worth the expense for me to fly more comfortably. I endured far too many deployment flights with my gear and other soldiers stacked literally on top of me. Someone reclining a seat they paid for is something far too stupid to get into an argument over and acting childish will only make it much worse. This isn’t an airline issue. This is a people feeling entitled to impose their will on others issue. You paid for the seat and all of the amenities that come with it.

  7. I agree with some of the comments it goes a long way ,when we try to be respectful and polite to others , it softens the situation instead of escalating it. Especially when we’re all stuck in a metal box in mid air and hardly any where to go .

  8. Best solution to fastest results:

    Require ALL politicians to fly commercial airlines in economy class with regular passengers.
    No first class, no premium upgrades, just standard cattle class flights like the rest of their constituents.

    Watch the changes happen then.
    Every other seat would be removed, seats would be able to recline comfortably again, etc.

  9. I recline every time. I’m 6’3 235 and when I hit the seat, it goes back and it doesn’t go upright until we land. I have never had anyone even make a peep. There is no “etiquette” to seat reclining. Who makes this stuff up.

  10. They should make the seats recline by making the bottom part of seat to slide forward also. This would allow reclining without bother the person behind them. Of course those with long legs would suffer!
    Or make the back of seat base move forward. The part the person sits on won’t move just the back part.

  11. You catch more flies with honey then vinegar. Maybe if the barracha, c u next Tuesday spoke like a human being with the person behind her, she would’ve gotten alot further. Unfortunately she just made herself look ridiculous.

  12. I feel that a ticket purchase affords me not only the right to my seat but the space that it occupies. So if I am in a natural sitting position that is my space. And anyone encroaching upon that space should be in violation. It is not my fault that you have a backache or your meds have not kicked in or they have or you just want to be comfortable. I have a right to my space and the airlines should defend that right so I don’t have to. And if I wish to give up that right for however long I want to should also be my right.

  13. Not sure if these people complaining are flying in bush planes or what. I fly often to Europe from the US in coach, im 6ft, I’ve never had my knees close to the seat in front of me. They can be reclined, the table still folds down to the same spot, which gives a few inches above my legs at least. This is at least with delta, american, united, german airlines, french airlines. I think the complainers just have some recliner complex.

  14. I had a very heavy individual sit next to me. I fell asleep only to be awakened to having my tray being down in front of me. On it this person poured out a pile of M&Ms. I woke up and thought she was sharing her M&Ms with me. She curtly told me she couldn’t get her tray down because of her body size so decided to use mine. “No M&Ms for you”! I was appalled .

  15. There’s NOT enough space for y person in front of me to lay their seat back in my face. It never fails that I not only get the person who is the only recliner of the three seats in front of me, but they bounce and jam the whole time. My laptop no longer fits on the table unless it’s one quarter closed with the tray pulled all the way out! One of two things needs to happen, more space between the seats or make the seeds no longer recline. I have a broken tailbone and a sore back, by the way.

  16. Typically the exit row seats do not recline so people who can’t afford the exit row can sit for the same amount in the row behind the exit row with no one reclining in front of them. Book early!

  17. I have an L3-SI lumbar fusion. The fully upright position of airline seats causes me to have pain so I do recline.

    I fly round trip from LAX to ATL twice a year. The aircraft type, such as a Boeing 777,can make a difference as well.

    Usually when I get a complaint I explain my situation and I’m not disturbing. Occasionally, though, someone complains throughout the entire flight. As we say in the South, some people just aren’t raised right

  18. Seat reclines I will recline. I’ve been a traveler since propeller planes. This stopping the seat in front of you is something prima donnas created. The seat in front of me always reclined live with it. Self absorbed people think they have special rights. And dress like an adult when you travel with shoes and socks. The captain is the boss now sit down be quiet and grow up. These little flights are not that big a deal.

  19. When tall people take the initiative at performances, particularly at a concert where everyone is standing at the same level, to move to the back of the room so it’s not to obscure the view of us much shorter people I will stop reclining my seat on the airplane. Until then the tall people can just deal with my seat being reclined while I look at the back of their freaking head at a concert. I was even in a concert recently where a 6-ft something guy was holding his arms up in the air to video the whole concert making it impossible for anyone around him to see. When someone like that is behind me on the plane they can eat their knees.

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