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Airline Etiquette: Should I recline my seat?

Apparently, this is a big deal with travelers as I read about it all the times and I get asked to comment on it as well.

What say you?

Norwegian Economy Seats Pitch Boeing 737-800
Norwegian Economy Seats Pitch Boeing 737-800

If your seat can recline, you have the right to do so. It becomes an issue as on some airlines the legroom is not what it used to be as fares are lower cost are higher and the airlines have figured out how to add more seats to an airplane so they can make more money.

 

Alaska Airlines - Economy Seats Pitch
Alaska Airlines – Economy Seats Pitch – Boeing 737-900ER

 

My suggestion to travelers is to read the information on the airline’s Web site before you travel. I’m not saying that I agree with what the airlines are doing, but everyone has their own business model and as travelers, when we buy a ticket we agree to these rules that are listed in the contract of carriage. Also, if you are an elite flyer, you can sit in the extra legroom section of the airline without having to pay. So there are options.

 

SAS Plus - Economy Seats Pitch Boeing 737-800
SAS Plus – Economy Seats Pitch Boeing 737-800

 

Lufthansa Economy Seats Pitch Airbus 321
Lufthansa – Economy Seats Pitch – Airbus 321

 

We also have choices. So if we want more legroom, we fly with a carrier that provides it. If we want low fares then we fly with a carrier that provides it knowing that the amenities may not be the same as another carrier.

 

Aeroflot Economy Seats Pitch
Aeroflot – Economy Seats Pitch – A320

 

I’ve flown 162 airlines, many of them low cost carriers. Sometimes I’ve had to turn sideways so I can fit and I’m 6′ 1″. Luckily the middle seat was empty. But I don’t complain as that’s what I paid for knowing that the seat pitch was very minimal on that airline. No point in complaining as nothing can be done on day of travel.

 

Condor Economy Seats Pitch
Condor – Economy Seats Pitch – Airbus A320

 

Tall guy on flight

I even once gave up my Emergency Exit row seat to a fellow passenger as clearly he was not going to fit in his seat. He looked like he was about 6′ 8″ tall. He gladly accepted it. On that particular airline, you have to pay extra for the Emergency Exit row seat.

 

Vueling Economy Seats Pitch
Vueling – Economy Seats Pitch – Airbus A320

 

Condor Exit RowCondor – Economy Seats Pitch – Exit Rows – Airbus A320

 

I also see people get upset when the seat cannot be reclined. Now typically, the seats in front of the Exit row on select airlines cannot be reclined. But you know this by checking the airline’s Web site before you choose your seat. Now sometimes you can only get seats at the airport, so oftentimes you just have to take what’s left. The good agents will tell you that the seat does not recline before or as they assign them to you.

 

Iberia Economy Seats Pitch - A319
Iberia – Economy Seats Pitch – Airbus A319

 

In all my flights, I’ve never seen any fights over seat recline. my seat has been pushed forward when I’ve reclined and I just suck it up as I think that’s rude and I don’t want to get into a fight with another passenger over a seat. It’s just not worth it. Besides, we will both get in trouble for it anyways, so what’s the point?

 

Singapore Airlines Economy Seats Pitch Boeing 777-300ER
Singapore Airlines – Economy Seats Pitch – Boeing 777-300ER

Now, there are options. The full service airlines have some kind of upgraded seating and even some of the Low Cost Carriers such as Scoot in Singapore and Norwegian in Norway. As an example, Delta Airline has Comfort, SAS has SAS Plus and United has E+. With these options you typically¬†either pay or get the upgrade for free if you are an elite flier. I recommend this option as once you sit in a more legroom seat, you don’t really want to sit in the normal Economy seat.

SAS - Economy Seats Pitch - Boeing 737-800
SAS – Economy Seats Pitch – Boeing 737-800

 

Norwegian - Economy Seats Pitch - Boeing 787-8
Norwegian – Economy Seats Pitch – Boeing 787-8

What have you found in your travels? Should passengers recline their seats? What say you?

10 thoughts on “Airline Etiquette: Should I recline my seat?

  1. It seems that the person in front of me always reclines, right from the first moment, so I recline so I have some space. For overnight flights its a good thing, but otherwise I only recline IF I really need the space because the seat in front is in way.

  2. Flying is the one time I’m happy to be short. When my knees are touching the back of the seat in front of me and I’m 5 feet, 3 inches tall, I feel very sorry for those of your height

    1. Yeah, its one of the things us taller ones have to bear :-)… It’s always interesting to see a much shorter person at the Exit row though and a tall person having to place their legs in the aisle just to be able to sit. sigh…

        1. You know Helen, I agree, but it never works that way. You see a shorter person at the exit row and the tall guy has his feet in the aisle… sigh…

          The joys of travel :-).

  3. To my shock, I’ve had a passenger push my seat forward too when I tried to recline. It wasn’t even the gentleman right behind me, but his wife who was sitting next to him. She said he didn’t have enough space. She could have easily switched seats with him and offer him her aisle seat, but she didn’t. I did nothing but the next time it happens? I’ll tell the passenger he/she should’ve booked another seat. Sorry. When I pay for a ticket that comes with a reclining seat, I’m reclining it, especially if it’s a long-haul flight.

    1. Ouch Helen, we know who wears the pants huh? :-).
      Yeah, I recommend getting the flight attendant involved though, it carriers much more weight when the instruction comes from them…

  4. I say recline your seat on a long haul flight. If everyone reclined their seat it really wouldn’t be an issue as everyone would have the same space between seats.

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