Delta Air Lines Passenger Uses His Coach Seat As A Standing Desk, And I’m Here For It

A Delta Air Lines economy passenger was spotted inflight on a four hour flight using his seat as a standing desk. He’s resting his laptop on top of his seat back, and facing backwards to work. This is a power move.

To be sure, the ‘airline seat as standing desk’ is a controversial choice.

But I actually think it’s brilliant, and might do it for a couple of minutes myself.

  • I’m sitting in the aisle, and the passenger next to me gets up to go to the lavatory. They’ll just be gone a minute, why settle back in with computer and drink and power cords only to have to get right back up? I may stand for a bit, it’s a good stretch, and I keep my laptop open with me during that time.

  • And it’s a good idea to stand, change positions, on a long flight. Underpadded ‘slimline’ seats may help airlines squeeze more seats into planes, but they can be rough on a back over several hours. By the way the value of recline is often just changing angles to avoid a sore back. But standing up for awhile is great too.

The trick to it is to avoid eye contact with the person sitting behind you (pretend you’re a resident of Manhattan), don’t make them feel like you’re intruding into your space.

In the end I don’t know who wants to sit in a Delta economy seat for longer than they have to. And Michael O’Leary has been threatening for years to introduce standing-only planes. So I don’t see how a passenger can be criticized for this. Besides, Delta now offers free inflight wifi, might as well be productive.

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. Just another rude passenger who needs to sit down and be quiet. The safety of all passengers is more important than one “look at me, i’m special” clown.

  2. Oh, I hate people who hover over me so, even if he wasn’t making eye contact, I would be angry if I were in the seat directly behind his.

    Also, given how flimsy those slim seats are nowadays, you take a risk that the laptop falls onto that passenger and injures them (or just spills their drink and pisses them off). Then all hell will break loose.

  3. I’m guessing the person in front of him fully reclined, which in my experience makes it impossible to work on a laptop at your seat.

  4. The biggest problems with this are:

    If a flight were to hit severe turbulence while someone while someone is doing this, the person and their laptop become projectiles. They themselves would likely be injured, but also passengers seated around them.

    The passenger is at least partially blocking the aisle, so in the way of anyone going to the lav, FAs doing services, etc. And, while this person may or may not be thin, not everyone is and a lot of people would almost completely block the aisle if they did this.

  5. I told my boss that if he wants me to work on flights the company needs to pay for first class for the space and compensate me for travel time. I still fly coach, but I remain a top performer in all metrics, and (like to think) I have friendly relationships with my colleagues.

  6. The FAs should ask him to remain seated with seatbelt fastened unless moving about the cabin and then if he does not comply they should just ask for the seat belt sign to be turned on and then tell him that failure to comply with crew instructions will result in a meeting with law enforcement when he arrives.

    This type of behavior needs to be cut off at the knees. Yesterday

  7. @Tim Dunn absolutely

    For what it’s worth the tweet doesn’t state any given length of time of the standing. it’s possible an FA told him to stop, but the tweeter didn’t state either way.

  8. I like this, I just don’t like the fact the laptop is balanced on the headrest. One bump of turbulence and the laptop is crashing down on the person behind him.
    But, I don’t like sitting much either. I pace up and down the aisles. Go to the bathroom about ever hour; just to do something and walk around. On wide-bodys, I hang out in the lavatory areas for an hour or so every now and then. Anything to get up and move around. On my 13 hour flight a couple weeks ago, I probably spent more time standing than sitting.

  9. Maybe such dedicated workers could go onto eBay and buy up some of those old trays that the cigarette ladies in the night clubs hung around their necks and carried around in front of them. Those trays would make great walk-around desks that the workers could use while pacing the aisles without having to stand in place facing the passenger behind their seat. When worn in a seated position they wouldn’t need to use their seat tray tables. They could even wear them to the restrooms, take along a deck of cards, and play solitaire to pass the time while sitting there. That way they could maintain a healthy work-play balance throughout their flight.

  10. I’ve been on three flights over the years with severe turbulence. On two there was no warning when it happened. On the third, we were warned and the seatbelt sign was on. It came on fast (30sec) after the warning. On each a flight attendant was injured as they weren’t belted. On the two without warning poorly latched overhead bin doors opened and a few smaller bags flew out, but larger bags stayed put. A few laptops flew. On each of the two a few passengers were bloodied because they were in aisles and hit their heads. That’s happened to some seated passengers who were beltless. I narrowly missed getting hit by a gameboy on one. The worst was what might have happened to an infant the parent was holding. If the turbulence has been a bit worse the child would have hit the top of the cabin. Fortunately, even though it flew up as the parent couldn’t hold it, it dropped back to her, unhurt.

    Were I a member of the flight crew, I would not have permitted the behavior. It is far too dangerous to permit it. If severe turbulence hit that plane, the laptop would have launched and frankly, someone could be killed by it. Frankly, I would be creeped out by a passenger standing like that and looking back at me whenever the head bobbed up from the screen. But it’s the dangerous stance that’s really the problem and can’t be permitted.

  11. Planes are subject to sharp, sudden, erratic movements as a result of turbulence. Said turbulence could propel a standing passenger onto one of his neighbors injuring both. Those walking to the restroom have their hands up ready to steady themselves by grabbing a seatback and are more prepared for unexpected movements by the plane.

  12. Here is the thing, he’s using the space between his seat and the person behind him for 1/4th of his laptop. It’s fine if it’s just for a few minutes, but otherwise it isn’t his to use and I would just take my big carryon and put it on my tray table and bump his laptop away. Passive agressive and effective.

  13. Need to design and patent a laptop tray for this purpose, great idea as long as the seatbelt sign is off. Of course the person couldn’t be rotund.

  14. How annoying, there’s nothing “power move” about it.

    And Gary clearly doesn’t fly Delta enough if he is complaining about a few hours in their economy seats.

  15. The way to discourage this is simple.
    The passenger he is facing should have a blinking light within his view.
    The distraction will not allow him to concentrate.
    A lot of LED flashlights have a strobe feature.

  16. Appears to be in Comfort + so…
    If I was in the middle seat next to him I’d be happy.
    If I was in the window seat something like “excuse me, since you’re already up, could you get me another gin and tonic?

  17. I am in love.

    Going to do this every flight now.

    I’m 6’5 and understand the value of money.

    This is the only way I can travel without a week of back pain.

  18. If that dude is the one in front of me, I suddenly can’t decide if I want my tray table up, or down, very vigorously… I can be quite indecisive. 😉

  19. What about turbulence? Guy’s a moron. Where were the FAs? I can’t see how you could stand like this propping up your computer and leaning over to use it for very long.

  20. Brilliant idea, NOT
    Do you wonder why we ask you to keep your seatbelt fastened while seated? For the same reason we do upfront, we never know when we’ll experience turbulence.

    Man goes flying, laptop becomes a projectile and now we have to make an emergency landing at the nearest airport.

    Lawsuits get filed and the person says, oh I got the idea from Gary on his website who said he was going to try it. The attorney finds a copy of this post and sure enough, another suit gets filed.

    Sometimes post need disclaimers and others just shouldn’t be posted, wonder what category this falls into…smh

  21. If he’s just waiting for the pax seated next to him to return I dont see anything wrong with it. Even if that wasn’t the case and he needed to stand to work for a couple minutes, who cares, and neither should yall. HOWEVER, it’s safer for him to be seated, but a couple of minutes isn’t wrong or bad. Since of you commenter need to get some business ok!

  22. Unnecessary standing is not permitted while taxiing or in-flight.

    BTW whose bright idea is to create an aircraft with passengers standing instead of being seated? How would that safely work?

  23. I’ve taken over 1,000 flights as a traveling consultant. Maybe I’m old school, but I have never worked on a flight (with or without a laptop). Working on a flight adds to stress and burnout.

  24. I literally saw this yesterday on my United flight from London to Houston. He was behind me so I don’t know how long he did it in total but I got up a couple times and he was standing each time.

  25. If I were in the seat behind him/her, I’d be videoing them and making the most egregious and vulgar comments about them and their entire family.

  26. When it comes to a lack of civility on flights, Gary Leff is part of the problem. [redacted – gl]

  27. This type of behavior and fools like Gary Leff that promote it will lead to airlines enacting policies of no standing other than bathroom breaks and seat belts on the entire flight.

  28. This type of behavior and fools like Gary Leff that promote it will lead to airlines enacting policies of no standing other than bathroom breaks and seat belts on the entire flight.

  29. I have a better idea. They already got rid of First Class. Flying is becoming an exercise only for those who are tough. Let’s get rid of the seats and weed out the really weak passengers. Only the strong will fly.

    Just shove them into what now essentially become a cargo plane. That’s it.Just stuff them all in like Turkeys on death row, too fat to stand as they wait for their execution.

    The airlines will make a fortune. You won’t need flight attendants. No need for the beverage cart or meals. The pilots can be paid more.No worry about overbooking because you can always stuff a few more in.

    Now, this is forward thinking. We can rename the first airline to do this… Simple Pleasures Airline! “Fly with us. You will never forget it.”

  30. Avoid eye contact?! Hell no! I guarantee I’d have no problem staring this guy down until he would cave and sit down. Would be fun actually.

  31. People have lost all scents of manners! Since the pandemic I have seen crazy people on air planes everyday being a crew member! These people have no respect for other peoples space and tranquility! The human race has gone crazy!!

  32. Nothing about why the photo was taken. Probably to show what a jerk he was. There are so many things wrong with this. Does this author seriously want this happening all over a plane?

  33. Meh. I don’t think it would bother me if someone did this. As long as he is quiet and so is his keyboard.

  34. 5 hours is not a long flight…want more room? Purchase a business or 1st class ticket

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