Economy Class Karen Shoves Seat, Instructs Passenger She’s “Not Allowed To Recline” On 10 Hour Flight

A young woman was shocked at the start of a 10 hour Lufthansa flight in economy, as a woman “shoved [her] seat forward” and told her that she’s “not allowed to recline” for the duration of the trip. Why? Because “it’s too much for her.” She asks her audience what she should do?

@tfutchh What would you do? #traveltiktok #solotravel #hostellife ♬ queen of disaster with sparkles – ˚ ˚。° ⋆♡˚ ꒰ ྀི ◞ ˕ ก ꒱ ⭐️

To be clear, you are allowed to recline if your seat reclines (except during takeoff and landing, when you’re instructed by crew to be in a full upright position for safety), and seat recline can be important for comfort especially on long flights with poorly-padded seats.

Recline works to distribute passenger weight and reduce back stress. 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

However, there is an etiquette to exercising your right to recline:

  1. Don’t recline during mealtime.
  2. Try not to recline unless it serves a real purpose (if it doesn’t actually benefit your comfort, don’t recline).
  3. Let them know you’re going to recline, and do it gently. That helps keep this from happening:

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. Many years ago all it took was $5 (offered with a parent’s permission) for me to convince a child seated in front of me not to recline so that I could work effectively on my laptop.

The product you’re buying in a standard coach seat usually does not offer very much space. Keep in mind that both Southwest Airlines and JetBlue offer more space than United, Delta, or American. Not all airlines are the same! And many international airlines offer more space in coach than U.S. airlines do.

Airlines offer premium products, whether extra legroom or first class, that you can purchase. Maybe it’s worth the extra money to you. Sometimes it isn’t much extra at all and this even exists on Spirit Airlines.

Whatever you do, though, don’t go all vigilante on the seat recliner in front of you and don’t push the seat that’s reclined in front of you, either. You may wind up in a conflict that winds up with the plane diverting and law enforcement coming on board to take you away.

(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. @Mathew King, it is good to know that there is relief available against buffoons. Seats are upright while loading passengers and during takeoff. When someone jams their seat into the space that a tall person’s knees occupy, that is assault or battery. Negotiating with compromising should end up with something reasonable for both parties with neither getting 100%. I usually find that the recliner reclining only a few inches is tolerable in an airplane with an inadequate pitch (my definition is under about 31 inches). I usually find seatbacks on airplanes recline about 4 inches at maximum but some recline further. I can use the width of my hand as a rough measuring tool. Who ended up paying the bill in your case? The offender or some sort of insurance or ???

  2. Seat reclines? I go half way to be polite. I usually pay extra to be in a seat that reclines and has extra space because I’m a larger person. Usually self absorbed people tend not to trouble me. I’ve seen it happen to others and I usually just turn and give the offender a snarl and then the person being hassled thanks me.

  3. @ethereal1, racist people resist any attempts to keep them from using racist pejoratives such as Karen. The Karen people natively live in both Thailand and Myanmar. They are persecuted in Myanmar by a genocidal government.

  4. @jns they paid personly and substantially.
    Yes, it is good to know when some larger than average person snarls at you attempting to bully you into submission that you can indeed force them to pay a LOT extra…

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