Since When is Reclining Your Seat in a Plane a Fightable Offense?

seat recline funny

“Aw HELL no. Dem’s fightin’ words!”

Yesterday a third flight was diverted due to passengers fighting over somebody reclining her seat. The third flight to be diverted for this reason in about two weeks! Are these airlines showing Fight Club as an inflight movie? Are they flavoring their ginger ales with methamphetamines? What’s with all the hate! And why, all of a sudden, is plane flight seat-reclining a fightable offense?

It’s totally reasonable to get pissed off if the person in front of you reclines his seat all the way back. You have little enough room as it is. Yes, by all means mutter something offensive under your breath. Make a big show of clearing your throat. Show the seat-recliner guy you’re annoyed.

But do you really need to take it to the next step and go buck wild, to the point of where they need to make an emergency landing and bring you up on federal charges? Is your extra leg space that important to you? Can’t you just hold your book or iPad a little bit higher to compensate? Besides, the guy in front of you is probably dealing with the same seat-reclining issues as the guy in front of him. Give him a break!

Read about the latest airline seat-recline fiasco

Yes, I understand that struggling airlines need to cram more and more seats into their planes in order to make the whole venture worth it. It’s been the trend for nearly a decade, now. Plus, blasting through the sky 100,000 feet in the air can be hard on the nerves. Some people aren’t used to flying and spend much of the flight with their stomaches twisted into weird party balloon shapes and their hands clenched on the hand rests.

Plus what if the person sitting next to you has BO, or won’t shut up, or has had his or her iPod turned up way too loud for the last 750 miles. Probably wouldn’t take all that much more to kick somebody into crazy foaming-at-the-mouth survival mode.

But these are all age-old complaints re: flying on a passenger jet. These are the standard grievances you hear when you pick Aunt Sally up at the airport. Everybody knows that it sucks to have the person in front of you recline his or her seat back when you’re trying to pour your ginger ale into the little plastic cup. Why is this suddenly a fightable offense? Why three such fights in two weeks?

You want to know why?

Because that’s how humans work. Humans are copycats. The first seat-recline fight actually made some sense. The fight started because the guy in the back tried to physically block the lady in front of him from reclining her seat, by way of a plastic device called a “knee defender.” Basically it was an anti-recline device. Once she recognized what was happening, the lady flipped out.

Why such a thing was allowed on board in the first place, I have no idea. Such a device robs the person in front of you of their ability to get their full money’s worth out of their expensive seat. It’s a little like strolling over to the diner booth next to you and unapologetically taking people’s sugar packets. Maybe they were going to need them or maybe they weren’t, but, either way, they were entitled to them, damnit!

Read about the “knee defender” fight that started it all

I can honestly see flying into a mouth-foamy rage over something like this. Resorting to a surreptitious anti-recline device seems like a childish and cowardly thing to do. Why not just tap the guy in front of you on the shoulder and tell him the truth: “Bro? I have a weird, childish phobia about reclining plane seats, so I’m going to have to ask you to refrain from reclining your seat for the duration of this flight. I’m willing to buy you a few screwdrivers or vodka tonics in compensation. Thank you for your corporation in this matter.”

If you want to be a little bitch, at least be a man about it!

So I totally get the first fight. But the second and, now, the third? Eh, those were clearly just copycat crimes. Anybody on any plane flight these last few weeks would naturally have Recline-Gate on their minds, would be primed and ready to blow, much like how one irate parent at a elementary school parent night is likely to stir up unrest in the other parents. “Yeah! That’s a good question, just why do you give so much homework?!?”

In the case of Recline-Gate, it’s more like: “Yeah! That’s a good question, why should I have to put up with this seat reclining nonsense?!?”

Or, maybe even more accurately, it’s like (in drunken southern accent): “Dem’s fightin’ werds!”

People tend to go foam-at-the-mouth crazy when, on top of feeling somehow impinged upon, and feeling generally nervous about being on an airplane in the first place, they also believe they have a social obligation to blow a fuse. If a guy feels he’s supposed to go nuclear about something, and he doesn’t, he’s going to feel like he just took one in the rear. Recline-Gate 1 sent a message to others that maybe you’re supposed to go nuclear about somebody reclining their seat in front of you. It’s basically the new Cabbage Patch Kid.

Maybe next month the big thing will be going nuclear over too few ice cubes in the vodka tonics.

Readers? Ever witness a passenger going nuclear on a plane flight/airport?

Or, Frequent Flyers, take a chill pill and read my article: 5 Ways to Unwind After a Stressful Plane Flight





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4 Responses to Since When is Reclining Your Seat in a Plane a Fightable Offense?

  1. Too few ice cubes in vodka tonics?…is that a thing?…which bartender do I have to strangle?

  2. Doobster418 says:

    I have never seen a fight like that on a plane, although I’ve come close to being in one a couple of times. Once I was working on my laptop with it sitting on the tray table when the guy in front of me suddenly — and violently — pushed his seatback all the way, catching the top of my laptop under the thingie that is used to lock the seatback in its upright position. The end result: his movement cracked my laptop screen. I was pissed.

    I never put my seat in the reclining position because I’m a considerate, decent, caring human being. And I do often ask the person in front of me, when he or she reclines, if they wouldn’t mind not doing that. Or I will say something like, “Hey, I’m workin’ here, douchebag.” More often than not, the seat occupant will apologize and move the seatback into the upright position. I have had some push back (no pun intended) once or twice, but we worked it out.

    • Bill Carson says:

      Wow, you’re actually quite experienced in seat-reclining-antics! Great job showing restraint after your laptop screen broke. A typical post “Recline-gate” passenger might have gone hog wild, causing the plane to make an emergency water landing.

      I’m with you. I hardly even recline my seat, as a courtesy to the person in back of me. Or, if I do, I do only a 15% incline, and I do it gently so I don’t crack any laptop screens.

      I really don’t get how people can just “wham bam thank you ma’am” their seat, as if the person in back of them doesn’t even exist. Some people—maybe most people—are oblivious to how their behavior affects other people. I can totally understand the raw fury associated with such an encounter. I’d just rather not get arrested, is all.

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