You should just never do that, because we can all see you and feel a bit defiled by what we are witnessing, but even if you don’t care about how creepy you seem, you should still never, ever, ever do it, because as well as being bizarrely aggressive and somewhat frightening, it is undignified, and the margin of error here simply does not allow for it. Know that for the rest of your days you are going to feel hotly embarrassed about this thing you are doing now on the plane. Have some respect for your future self, and do not do it.
posted by chappell, ambrose (89 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Seems to me that both these people were wrong in this plane incident, she should have respected the very limited space, he should not have continued to do the knocking thing. But, the most at fault entity has to be the airlines who create these hellish situations to begin with so they can squeeze a few more pennies. Fuck the airlines, I want more trains!
posted by nofundy at 3:12 PM on February 20 [21 favorites]
Beware, as my supreme confidence ensues:

One pays for one’s seat

One is entitled to all aspects of one’s seat.

One aspect is the ability to recline.

Done and Done.
posted by CheapB at 3:28 PM on February 20 [18 favorites]

Bump Bump Bump Bump
posted by pipeski at 3:34 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]
Except the armrests. Those belong to the middle passenger.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 3:36 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]
dont argue people all views on this demean us

that dude totally needs to be pretator droned in public
posted by lalochezia at 3:36 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]

I kinda wish we could go back to the time when air travel was a luxury, rather than something we endure. I love flying, but at 6’5 there’s only a few seats I can afford that are comfortable, so I’m effectively locked out. However, I would not mind the extra expense if every seat was guaranteed adequate legroom and better service.
posted by drivingmenuts at 3:37 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]
I just find articles like this tiresome. Sure, it’s fine to prefer the person in front of you doesn’t recline, but the ridiculous insistence that your personal preference in the matter is some kind of moral code you can dictate to others is tedious. The seats are built to recline. If you are lucky, the person in front of you may not choose to do that, same as if you are lucky you may get an empty seat next to you. But in neither case are you entitled to them.
posted by tavella at 3:40 PM on February 20 [22 favorites]

Remember that life is long, and that you are going to feel like an idiot about this every time you remember doing it, which will be often.

This is projection. The author might remember such a transgression often; more-than-normally considerate people might, but I really doubt that most people who would commit the act will remember it often, if they even give it a second thought.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:40 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]

I used to fly quite often. I don’t fly as much these days. Am I the only person here who doesn’t really dislike the flying part so much as the airport part?

Also: the seats recline. As far back as I can remember flying in the 1980s, the seats reclined. Only recently do I read people freak out about the horror of someone reclining a seat 3.5 inches. It’s not that bad. I recline. And I don’t care if someone in front of me reclines, either. I’m 6 feet tall and 180lb FWIW, neither small nor large. My guess is the Internet has amplified the hell out of the minuscule issue of reclining seats and now Everyone Hates It.

It’s a plane ride, people. Only a few hours out of your lives. I can’t say I love being on a plane, but it’s really not quite as miserable as I keep hearing about. It’s a few of hours reading time in less-than-perfect comfort.
posted by SoberHighland at 3:42 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]

“…to prefer the person in front of you doesn’t recline, but the ridiculous insistence that your personal preference in the matter is some kind of moral code”

I think it’s seen a lot more (by some people) as “you don’t be an asshole to me and I won’t be an asshole to you”. And I believe the person behind *can* ramp up the asshole wo being arrested. Personally, I’ve never felt those games were worthwhile but other people feel differently.

And no, I’ve known people (multiple) who wouldn’t give a damn if you filmed them doing that.
posted by aleph at 3:45 PM on February 20

There’s a giant difference between “be an asshole” and “become violent and assault someone”. If you’re upset about someone reclining into your space, be an asshole if you want – yell, complain, whatever. As soon as you resort to violence, like, oh, REPEATEDLY PUNCHING THE BACK OF THE SEAT, you’ve lost whatever sympathy you might have gotten. You’re a fucking adult. Adults aren’t supposed to resolve conflicts through punching and physical intimidation.
posted by hanov3r at 3:50 PM on February 20 [9 favorites]
They are not interested in sympathy. Not in these games. I’m done.
posted by aleph at 3:50 PM on February 20
I gotta admit to finding the stinky pigs piece below this one more substantive, but I did recently go down a YouTube rabbit hole of vids of people losing their shit and getting kicked off of planes/airports and that again made me sad how many people are just walking around ready to lash out against their own best interests.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:52 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]
It’s a few of hours reading time in less-than-perfect comfort.

Unfortunately for many of us it’s become “get on WiFi and be connected and work” time (not saying that’s a good thing – just the reality for frequent flyers who are finding it harder to avoid being connected and simply relaxing and are being made to treat their seat more as a desk in a shared office then 4 hours of dead time and I suspect is causing some of these issues.)
posted by inflatablekiwi at 3:52 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

“…made me sad how many people are just walking around ready to lash out against their own best interests.”

Yep. 🙁

Most of the time they can’t even see it. It’s even worse when they can (and can’t stop anyway).
posted by aleph at 3:55 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

I stopped competing in my sport recently partly because it required so much air travel and because flying is (a) innately undignified (b) horrible for the environment and (c) generally unpleasant. Also, people on crammed city buses behave better than people on planes do. Our impatience and entitlement, and the impatience and overwork of the people who are tending to us, make flying less fun than being on a public subway at rush hour. Plus you have to be on the darn plane so much longer than is reasonable.

So, yeah, I agree with the author.
posted by Peach at 3:58 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

Also: the seats recline. As far back as I can remember flying in the 1980s, the seats reclined. Only recently do I read people freak out about the horror of someone reclining a seat 3.5 inches.

Seat pitch in coach has also shrunk over the past 30 years. People didn’t complain about it as much back then because it wasn’t as much of a problem.
posted by Automocar at 4:00 PM on February 20 [20 favorites]

One is entitled to all aspects of one’s seat.

If one is entitled to all aspects of one’s seat, surely one is entitled to the volume of physical space that comes with that seat. Reclining your seat increases your volume at the expense of the person behind you. This, in most cases but particularly in cases where the person behind you has not specifically ceded that volume to you, makes you an asshole.

The person behind you can potentially reclaim that volume by reclining their own seat, if they are not engaged in something (eating, drinking, working) that precludes reclining, if their seat is capable of reclining, and if they choose to themselves become an asshole by intruding on the space of the person behind them, thereby perpetuating the cycle of assholery.

Yes, it is a feature of your seat. Yes, you have the physical ability to do so. And yes, whatever your argument to the contrary, when done outside of the narrow constraints outlined above, reclining your seat into someone else’s space makes you an asshole.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:00 PM on February 20 [35 favorites]

Only recently do I read people freak out about the horror of someone reclining a seat 3.5 inches. It’s not that bad.

Seat pitch on most US carriers is in the 31-32 inch range, down from around 34-35 inches in the 1980s. (JetBlue retains a 34 inch seat pitch.) This is so that airlines can fit an extra row or two into economy; you know when an aircraft has been retrofitted because the windows don’t line up with the seats anymore. A person reclining 3.5 inches is taking up >10% of the available space to the person behind them. That person cannot view their seatback entertainment anymore, cannot unfold their tray table, cannot read comfortably because their book is now shoved several inches closer to their face. And forget trying to use a laptop to actually work.

I’m 5’2″ on a good day and fly several times a year. It’s really uncomfortable when the person in front of me sits down and immediately reclines into my face. I’m not going to yell about it or be passive-aggressive, but I can see where the impulse is coming from. I don’t even have the legroom problems of most people. If it’s really just a couple hours non-redeye flight, just sit up straight like your grandmother taught you.
posted by basalganglia at 4:01 PM on February 20 [15 favorites]

I haven’t flown since around 2000. But easier and less painful ways of stopping behaviour you don’t like are available. I always disliked the person in front of me declining their seat, because I am big and tall and found airplane seats difficult. I loved when they moved me to the emergency exit seat because they figured I’d get the door open in an emergency, and throw it a mile if needed. Anyways, if I went flying and someone reclined their seat, no problemo. I’d just start coughing. Maybe it is a cold, maybe the flu etc.

Dang, I’d mention a recent trip to China 😉
posted by baegucb at 4:02 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

I’d pay a premium to sit in a section where everyone agrees not to recline, manspread, kick/punch seats (or allow their kids to do same), hum, whistle, carry on anything besides a personal item, jostle the headrests for stability* on the way to the lav, or order a Diet Coke.

*You steady yourself by touching the overhead lockers.
posted by armeowda at 4:03 PM on February 20

This is definitely one of those threads where people reveal more than they may intend.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:04 PM on February 20 [11 favorites]
I’m six feet tall, with a 34 inch inseam. I’ve had seats in front of me reclined. It’s slightly less comfortable than not reclining, but whatever, man. Nothing about flying is as bad as people make it out to be.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:04 PM on February 20 [15 favorites]
Newer seats shift forward as they recline. This changes (almost) everything, although it is still just a tiny percent of seating currently available.

As for myself, reclining doesn’t much decrease my discomfort, so I seldom bother with it. I do feel that it is a prerogative of a seat-holder to to avail themselves of the few comforts available to them, and this includes reclining. I am annoyed when the seat in front of me reclines at inopportune times (e.g., crunching my laptop that just barely fit already; when food is being served), but this is what booking steerage means. I accept it.

There seems to be a school of thought that you should ask the person behind you before reclining. That seems nice but impractical. I mean, I have never seen this done. It’s a lovely thought, but it does not rise to the level of required etiquette.

But in this particular case, it seems clear that the guy behind was being antisocial. It also seems that the airline had no clear position on reclining policy. Maybe if a guy complains it’s bad and a woman complains it’s hysteria? I mean, either reclining is a thing or it isn’t. Since it’s an available service, a reasonable person would assume it’s OK.

Airlines spend several minutes repeating rules and safety drills that rarely come up in practice. I support that because it probably increases survival in emergencies. But they could spend a few seconds on etiquette and they don’t. The only plausible reason is that the system is conflicted about that issue. If reclining is an offence, why offer it? If the etiquette is straightforward, than explain it. But the fact is, nobody has decided these issues, even as available space seems to diminish year-by-year. Fact is: this is on the airlines. But also on us because we jump at the fares these tight spacings permit.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:05 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]

“I’d pay a premium to sit in a section where everyone agrees not to recline, manspread, kick/punch seats…”

I believe that’s called “First Class”
posted by aleph at 4:05 PM on February 20 [11 favorites]

“But I PAID for those 3.5 inches, YOU ASSHOLE! And I have seat pitch measurement statistics for several decades MEMORIZED to PROVE I AM IN THE RIGHT and that you are WRONG!!”

Pretzels or cookies?
posted by SoberHighland at 4:08 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

No popcorn?
posted by aleph at 4:09 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]
There’s some etiquette that seems like it should be self-evident, but Americans seem to refuse to think about the tragedy of the commons ever, anymore.

Let people off elevators and trains before you board.
Don’t stop at the top of an escalator.
Don’t talk to strangers during the commute.

This isn’t city folk being rude, it’s a social contract because we need things to keep moving.

People who fly frequently understand this: you don’t recline your seat into someone else’s space without asking. That’s it, that’s the rule. If someone’s not behind you? Go ahead and recline. But you’re intruding, and you should never assume to intrude into someone’s space without saying something.

The punching guy? Clearly worse. It’s disproportionate just like punching a manspreading guy on the train would be. But that doesn’t mean reclining was ok.
posted by explosion at 4:15 PM on February 20 [15 favorites]

People who fly frequently understand this: you don’t recline your seat into someone else’s space without asking.

I was a very frequent flyer up until 2005 or so. I still fly a few times a year. This was never the case. And to this day, I have never seen or heard anyone ask to recline a seat. It’s a seat. It reclines. Recline it if you want. If someone has an issue, that person should speak up, and a compromise can be made.

FFS, we’re turning into a nation of Jerry Seinfelds.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:20 PM on February 20 [31 favorites]

https://gizmodo.com/a-gadget-that-stops-seats-from-reclining-caused-a-plane-1626696368
posted by Splunge at 4:22 PM on February 20
You know what you can do? You can ASK the person behind you if it’s okay to recline.

OMG! Interact with live human! Yes. It’s possible. And even crazier? 99% of the time they say “sure.”

And if they say no? Well, you can try the next step I try if I’m in coach and desperate: Bribery. Say real politely “If you let me recline for two hours I will buy you a drink or snack.” And about half the time that works. Compromise and communicate like adults.

Or. You know. Fly business class if all that seems impossible.
posted by Everyone Expects The Spanish Influenza at 4:24 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]

I just find articles like this tiresome. Sure, it’s fine to prefer the person in front of you doesn’t recline, but the ridiculous insistence that your personal preference in the matter is some kind of moral code you can dictate to others is tedious.

(Did you read the article?)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 4:25 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]

Flown all over the damned place and the only time I’ve seen airline attendants tell someone to put their seat up is during mealtime and takeoff/landing.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:26 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]
Newer seats shift forward as they recline. This changes (almost) everything, although it is still just a tiny percent of seating currently available.

I’ve seen these seats. By shifting forward as they recline, in principle the net intrusion into the space of the person behind you does not change. In practice, though, they help pretty much not at all. If I’m the person behind you, suddenly my feet (not even my knees, just my shins and feet) have another couple of cubic feet of space, and suddenly my lap and chest and face (i.e. the space that actually matters in most cases) is full of your seat.

Don’t kid yourself that seats shifting forward as you recline excuses you from being an asshole.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:27 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]

And I have seat pitch measurement statistics for several decades MEMORIZED

Or, I spent three minutes on Wikipedia. But yeah, keep punching that straw man, man.
posted by basalganglia at 4:28 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]

We’ve already had these arguments previously.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:30 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]
OK, this thread has touched some NERVES. Air travel seems to foster this weird subset of Road Rage. Even normally mild-mannered MeFites are calling each other assholes here.

It’s only a few hours in your lives, folks! Sometimes less! I’m just glad I don’t get so worked up about it.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:33 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]

Look, airline travel is pretty terrible. It will be even worse in hypothetical hyperloops. That’s all a given. But as long as airline offer seats that recline it will always be default-assumed that reclining is OK. That is on them, for offering a service that isn’t really on offer. I don’t avail myself of it much, but it has never occurred to me to ask if it was OK to do so, nor have I ever had anyone in front of me ask to do it. As of now, reclining is one of the few comforts allowed to steerage airline customers. It’s a mess, but that what you sign up for in steerage.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:38 PM on February 20 [10 favorites]
The mere fact that first class air travel exists pisses me off, somehow people with money are better than the poors. Trains, people! Our environment can’t continue to handle all this air travel.
posted by nofundy at 4:45 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]
The guy behind might have been legitimately aggrieved, but he behaved as an asshole. The woman in front broached no red line in principles. Maybe the guy behind could have said something like “Sorry to bother you but I’m really cramped back here.” That would have been nice but instead he just lashed out. Instead, he was skirting the borderlines of assault. That guy deserves no defense or sympathy. He is wrong each way from Sunday and I can’t even believe there is a controversy about that.
posted by sjswitzer at 4:46 PM on February 20 [15 favorites]
I loved this article! And I love that its message – that there is no moral high ground in air travel – is flying right over the heads of most of us in this thread.

Pun intended.
posted by medusa at 4:48 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]

First time I’ve seen this video. How exactly is this “punching” and not “joggling”?
posted by WCityMike at 4:48 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]
Different accommodation levels exist on trains, too. Pay more for a nicer experience. It’s like a Kia versus a BMW. Both get you to to the in-laws’ house on time. One’s a bit nicer to spend time in.
posted by SoberHighland at 4:49 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]
The insistence on reclining is basically pointing out that there’s no law against being an asshole. And it’s true! There’s no rule preventing you from making other people’s lives unpleasant.

Depending on the plane, someone reclining in front of me may make it very difficult for me to see the seatback monitor, it may make it impossible for me to open my laptop, in one case it came close to dislocating my kneecap. Am I going to die? No. Do you owe me anything? No. But understand that if you’re reclining, you’re the manspreader making your trip more comfortable at the expense of other people.

But yes, when I got on the plane I knew what I was signing up for.
posted by GuyZero at 4:49 PM on February 20 [13 favorites]

The mere fact that first class air travel exists pisses me off, somehow people with money are better than the poors.

The people who pay cash money for business or first class travel (and aren’t just frequent fliers getting it comped) are the ones paying for the flight. It’s where all the profit is. Without them* there wouldn’t be nearly the price competition in economy.

* discount airlines cut costs different ways and maybe that works for you but clearly every airline can’t be a discount airline
posted by GuyZero at 4:52 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]

Dang, I’d mention a recent trip to China 😉

One of the last Harper’s newsletters included a list of all the people who got arrested in the US for falsely claiming one way or other to have recently made a trip to China.
posted by sideshow at 4:54 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]

Reclining seats are probably a holdover from when seat spacing was more luxurious. It makes less sense now, and yeah, I get it. I’ve gotten cramps from leaning over to find my bags under my feet. I mean, it just doesn’t work unless you’ve been practicing your yoga.

It’s almost certainly true that we have different expectations for what a plane trip will be. Some expect a certain amount of comfort or, even, luxury. Some just expect to be able to endure it. But the fact is that there is no understood expectation about reclining. And if there were an expectation previously, when seat distances were further, those expectations confound things today.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:01 PM on February 20

just so everyone knows, the seats on spirit airlines don’t recline at all and yet everyone still finds a way to work my last fucking nerve you enervating sons-of-bitches flip that tiny seatback tray again and I will end you
posted by logicpunk at 5:03 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]
I’ve never reclined an economy seat and felt that it had any impact on my comfort. That 1 degree incline is not worth the inconvenience it causes the passenger behind you. But that’s beside the point. Fuck the airlines for continuing to squeeze seats so close together that this is even an issue.
posted by pleem at 5:04 PM on February 20 [10 favorites]
“Hello passengers, this is your steward Static— as we level off at 35,000 feet we will be turning off the seat belt sign and request everyone recline their seats.
Snacks will be handed out in forty-five minutes and we will request everyone straighten up while we you enjoy your complimentary stale pretzel.”

As a six foot five lanky human being— go right ahead and recline in front of me, find comfort where you can. The shared commons is everyone should recline!

It kinda sucks that we lost the courtesy of “you’re big— do you want an exit row?” but after a long haul flight I always think “I shoulda bought the upgrade” but lo and behold— when I’m booking the flight the next time around, it’s hard to not think “$100 saved for a little discomfort— I could get a nice meal to reward myself for that!” and the cycle continues.
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:06 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

flying right over the heads of most of us in this thread.

Exactly this. Maybe 10% of commenters in this thread have RTFAed? Or at least read to the end, fully, and understood it. The pull quote is not the point of the article. Worse, they’ve proved the point.
posted by supercres at 5:08 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]

Worse, they’ve proved the point.

Some people seem to think that because we lack dignity in air travel that they can do whatever they want. And they’re right! There is no God who will judge you for being an asshole. Nothing you do will fundamentally make a plane trip an amazing experience.

It is up to you whether or not you do something to make it worse than it already is.

I mean, I get what the article is saying, but it’s a little nihilistic to say “nothing matters, everything is terrible, the endless war of all against all is the natural order of humanity.”
posted by GuyZero at 5:13 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

“…the endless war of all against all is the natural order of humanity.”

It’s a *choice*. One of the many. And yes, it’s a pattern we can “fall” into. Like racism and a lot of the other crap we have in the back of our heads. I’m interested in making better choices. (And the ways of figuring that out)
posted by aleph at 5:16 PM on February 20

I did read the article, and it may have blathered on about no dignity and no complaining, but it was about a specific set of no complaining — no complaining about not reclining, instead of no complaining about someone reclining. With a bunch of ‘well, you are awful to be taking planes anyway’ on top. But apparently when you take planes you should still follow my moral edicts, so again… tiresome.
posted by tavella at 5:21 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]
(There is a difference between reading the article and agreeing with it.)
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 5:23 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]
Remember that life is long, and that you are going to feel like an idiot about this every time you remember doing it, which will be often.

Here is a list of the only things I feel like an idiot for doing on flights (and okay, one time it was a bus):

Folding myself up into more and more ridiculous contortions while the guy next to me manspread his legs, elbowed me in the ribs, and opened newspapers into my face.

Not escalating beyond a quiet “what the fuck, dude?” when the guy behind me kept leaning forward and stroking my neck while I slept.

Not telling the person who turned sideways and put their bare feet on the armrest we shared to cut it the fuck out.

In short, as a woman who was brought up to be polite and easygoing and not make a fuss, I need to learn to be more assertive about strangers taking advantage, not less.
posted by lollusc at 5:27 PM on February 20 [13 favorites]

Dude would not have been punching the seat if the person in front of him was a man. He saw someone smaller, older (I’m guessing), female, and thought he could get away with violent, aggressive behavior. And he was right!

I have taken many airline flights, I mean, many flights. Many just in the last two years. I have never been asked by the person in front of me if it was ok to recline their seat. I have never asked the person behind me before reclining my seat. I have never heard any person ask any other person before reclining their seat. It is just not a thing that happens on any routine basis.

I refuse to play along with so many commenters and retcon this guy’s behavior as somehow justified. Nope.
posted by webwench at 5:29 PM on February 20 [30 favorites]

Like, seriously.
posted by lollusc at 5:30 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]
just so everyone knows, the seats on spirit airlines don’t recline at all and yet everyone still finds a way to work my last fucking nerve you enervating sons-of-bitches flip that tiny seatback tray again and I will end you

This is because Spirit Airlines is always teetering on the verge of charging you a $40 premium to not be asked to help the plane stay up by clutching the wing with your thighs and flapping your arms really fast. When someone is literally watching you to nickel-and-dime you for every tiny amenity, everyone riding Spirit is too fucking broke or cheap to afford any tiny comfort, you quickly learn to cherish grudges. Add that to the fact that the employees are burned out, overworked, understaffed, and have grown to hate every member of the general public, and you have a beautiful recipe for a fuck-awful experience.

I would quite seriously rather ride a Greyhound bus than ride Spirit Airlines. The Greyhound people have a way better comfort to irritation ratio, and what I lose in time I can make up in watching the scenery go by. If we had any sort of useful rail at all… oh, well, that’s a pipe dream in the extreme.
posted by sciatrix at 5:44 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]

the seats recline. As far back as I can remember flying in the 1980s, the seats reclined. Only recently do I read people freak out about the horror of someone reclining a seat 3.5 inches.

There used to be articles that discussed how to survive a plane crash and the thing many survivors had in common was that they assumed the safety position: bending over and putting their heads down.

Try that someday when you are flying economy now. Even without someone putting their seat back it is impossible unless you are very small.
posted by srboisvert at 5:48 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

no way am i asking if I can recline the seat. it’s not their right to say no to me!! it’s MY seat , similarly, no-one behind them has the right to say “you can’t recline your seat”. if they bought a “no recline seat”, that’s ON THEM. it’s not public transport. it’s a fucking seat and they paid for it and its characteristics. those characteristics are on display on the booking page!

to compare this to manspreading, where you take OTHER, FIXED seats up is ridiculous.

what I can do is say “I’ll be reclining the seat in a minute, fyi” and not spill their drink, or give them time to adjust.

if a passenger behind me stops me from reclining the seat, you can bet the attendant is being called.

FFUYFFIUYUIYFYUIFFIUYFYIUFYIUFIYUFIYUFIUYFFFFFFFUUUUUUUU
posted by lalochezia at 6:09 PM on February 20

Not directing this at anyone in particular but — if, understanding that you are very likely inconveniencing or even causing physical pain to someone else, you insist on your absolute right to do a thing, well. Okay I guess? I’m not entirely sure what to say to you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Are all of these flights going to Omelas maybe? Cause it seems like a lot of us live there perfectly comfortably.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 6:16 PM on February 20 [9 favorites]

Jeez, save your yelling for—I guess—the airplane cabin.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 6:16 PM on February 20
Nothing about flying is as bad as people make it out to be.

For some people, maybe not. For me, I’m very claustrophobic. I specifically book myself an aisle seat whenever I have to fly so I don’t have a panic attack, and I’m always worried that there will be some sort of mistake and I’ll wind up having to sit in a middle or window which would make me panic. Recently I went to look for tickets for a flight I thought I’d have to make and was horrified to discover that a number of flights now don’t let you select your own seat. I wound up not having to make the flight so I didn’t get all the way through the booking process to see how it played out by the end, but now I’m even more worried about if that is going to be yet one more barrier to me not having weeks of anxiety and dread every time I need to fly.

Believe me, I understand that flying is not really for me and would gladly forego it, but unfortunately it is sometimes unavoidable. I occasionally have to fly for work, and my husband’s family lives just far away enough that driving to visit is rarely practical; and while some of the family is sympathetic, others are not and all of them do expect me to “suck it up” and make the trip at least occasionally.

A friend of mine who does not typically suffer from claustrophobia booked himself a window seat on a recent flight as per usual. He’s kind of a hefty guy, and as he sat there two very hefty guys sat down in the remaining seats in his row, kind of squishing him. Then the guy in front of him reclined. He said he was in a low-level panic state for the whole flight. He vowed never to book a window seat again.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:17 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]

I believe that’s called “First Class”

I believe you deliberately didn’t engage with my entire comment, because if you had, your punchline would make no sense.
posted by armeowda at 6:25 PM on February 20

If you don’t see how reclining into someone else’s space is similar to manspreading into someone else’s space I don’t even know what to say.

Last week on a flight a man sat down and immediately reclined his bald spot into my eye line approximately 12 inches from my face for the entire duration of the flight.
posted by zymil at 6:42 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]

One will never have dignity while flying because that aluminum tube you’re strapped into is inflated like a tin balloon with the pressurized aggregate flatulence of dozens of strangers and airborne gallons of evaporated human moisture, trapped there thousands of feet up. That said, if I want the maximum chance of arriving alive at my destination, I fly. If I want the comfort of leg room and a view, I take the train. If I want my soul to sing, I’ll ride a bicycle, a Vespa, a motorcycle, or a 1967 Citroën 2CV4. All involve tradeoffs and economies of time and privilege.

That said, the reclining of the seat in front of me always irked me fiercely when I was trying to either read or do something fiddly with a laptop on the tray table, but the advent of a boundless source of podcasts, all the vintage radio drama still surviving on some media somewhere, and audiobooks means I’m perfectly happy to sit back, put on a recording, and close my eyes until we clump down onto the destination runway. If I’m going to be strapped into an aluminum tube inflated like a tin balloon with the pressurized aggregate flatulence of dozens of strangers and airborne gallons of evaporated human moisture, it’s best to be able to surrender to a little sonic trance and think about Jack Benny, George Orr, and how clams learn until it’s all over, though your mileage may most definitely vary.
posted by sonascope at 6:50 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]

I consider air travel a good way to practice controlling my temper. There are always so many opportunities (the overhead bin games alone!). They are a nice distraction from the constant fear that a bump of turbulence means the plane is going down.

You really want a contrast, take Amtrak one way of a trip and a plane back. The looks on the passengers’ faces go from Christmas Morning to Rush Hour Traffic.
posted by sallybrown at 7:12 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

My previous comment the last time we had this discussion still stands.
posted by oneironaut at 7:46 PM on February 20
to compare this to manspreading, where you take OTHER, FIXED seats up is ridiculous.

Manspreading: taking space from other people in order to make yourself more comfortable. Done in cramped quarters with little chance of escape.

Reclining in Economy: taking space from other people in order to make yourself more comfortable. Done in cramped quarters with little chance of escape.

There is no difference. Both are legal. Neither will get you kicked off your conveyance or arrested. And they’re both shitty things to do to your fellow traveler if you haven’t gotten consent first.

Just admit that you’re willing to prioritize your comfort over others. Don’t act like you’re somehow better than that. Because it’s clear you don’t give a fuck beyond your own selfishness.

Thank the goddess I don’t have to fly any more. With luck, I’ll never step foot on an airplane again. Flying makes me absolutely despise other people.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:53 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]

Recliners also fall under the rule where I’m not going to assume what someone does or doesn’t need based on how they look. Maybe the person has medical issues or a bad back (or even just a bad hangover). Tbh I have always found reclining to be MORE uncomfortable than not, so I don’t have anything invested in this debate.
posted by sallybrown at 7:53 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]
Maybe seats on the left should espect to *all* recline, and on the right, *not* recline. Or it could switch every hour.

Clean cups!
posted by clew at 8:08 PM on February 20

it’s a fucking seat and they paid for it and its characteristics

They did! But they also chose a seat with the characteristic of having a punchable back. If not having the back of your seat punched is so desirable, one can of course book the rearmost seat on the plane.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:10 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]

But as long as airline offer seats that recline it will always be default-assumed that reclining is OK. That is on them, for offering a service that isn’t really on offer.

Yeah, the airline exec who suggested that this is all just an etiquette problem was infuriating to me. They know the seat recline thing is a problem, but they’d rather have passengers getting furious with each other than risk the ire of customers by disabling recline. FWIW: I never recline unless someone in front of me does it first, but no one in front of me has ever asked me if I’d mind them reclining. (Where do people do this?) I have had a couple of taller fellows ask if I could put my seat up to save their knees — which I do, obviously. I’ve never had anyone over age 8 intentionally knock the back of my seat. Just appalling behavior.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:33 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]

You know what you can do? You can ASK the person behind you if it’s okay to recline.

Oh my god. Recline, don’t recline, I will live but if you force me to interact with you that’s when things get hairy.
posted by windykites at 8:37 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]

It’s strange to me that people say reclining is “causing physical pain” to another person but then are conveniently ignoring that the pitch of airline seats can aggravate back issues? I personally will lose some feeling in my feet if I am forced to sit completely upright. I recline my seat because I know otherwise I will be in pain, and it’s a gamble if the person behind me would care.

> just sit up straight like your grandmother taught you.

How delightfully ableist of you.
posted by Behemoth, in no. 302-bis, with the Browning at 8:42 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]

I’m 6’5″, most of it leg. If you recline your seat, my knees get crushed. First I will ask politely for you to refrain from reclining. If the answer is no (or, more likely, I am simply ignored) I then will sit in extreme discomfort until you return your seat to the upright position, at which point I raise my knees and place them just so against the back of your seat, braced in a manner which makes it impossible for you to recline your seat again. It’s not a comfortable posture, but it’s more comfortable than having my kneecaps smashed into gravel. I tend to get a lot of frustrated, dirty looks with this maneuver.
posted by dazed_one at 9:21 PM on February 20 [9 favorites]
The people who pay cash money for business or first class travel (and aren’t just frequent fliers getting it comped) are the ones paying for the flight. It’s where all the profit is. Without them* there wouldn’t be nearly the price competition in economy.

Flying economy is like taking a crowded bus across the country. It’s a commodity service with no profit margins. The flight attendants are there primarily for safety, secondarily for order, third to pick up a few extra bucks selling stuff. Do not think or expect your ticket entitles you to anything more than this. T

It took me a long time to realize this but since then I’ve been much happier about flying because (1) I fly much less and (2) expect to be miserable the times I do fly. I only fly if I’m willing to accept the low grade torture because my destination is worth it. I still complain, obviously, so I disagree with this author. In fact I kind of interpreted the whole harangue about not complaining as their own way to do passive aggressive performative suffering, which is what airline travel brings out in most of us.

I mean, there is a list price to fly comfortably, it’s just most people don’t think it’s worth paying.
posted by mark k at 9:45 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]

“Do not think or expect your ticket entitles you to anything more than this.”

It’s *not* this. It’s what your ticket (legally) entitles you to do to the person behind you in this hell world we live in. *That* causes what other people cannot seem to understand to be very large rage in other people, whether it *should* or not.

And what other people also do not seem to understand is that part of this hell World is an *appreciable* fraction of its citizens *no longer believe in any kind of Social Contract*.

Given the combination… it’s inevitable.

And no, also what other people do not seem to understand, there is nothing to *sympathize* or *excuse*. That’s not how this works.
posted by aleph at 11:06 PM on February 20

I find it astonishing that some people (not pointing to any mefite here) consider both parties to have transgressed on an equally asshole-ish level. Whatever you may think of reclining, to willfully keep jostling someone’s seat seems unspeakably rude to me. I guess it also bugs me more because as someone said above, I doubt he would have done that to a man.

I have to say I’ve almost never seen someone ask if they can recline, and as such I just take it as the right that comes with their seat purchase. If someone were to ask me I’d probably be so taken aback and appreciative that I wouldn’t think to deny them. I personally never recline but I do realize that I’m privileged in the sense that I’m fairly young and I don’t have physical health issues that might lead others to need to do so. I don’t begrudge others for it, maybe they have good reason for it. I’m more bothered when people prop their naked feet onto my armrest 🙁 🙁 🙁 I do think it’s rude when people do not sit back up straight when it comes to meal times, though.

I might be in the minority here, but I think I also don’t mind people reclining that much because I rather like flying. If you’re on a plane you clearly need to get somewhere, and is it really much worse than spending 5x that amount of time in a car? Or in a boat? I get that for a lot of folks hell is other people, but you’re able to cross the globe in such a short amount of time! Being around others seems like a decent trade off. We’re 30,000 feet in the air! We’re floating through a magical cloud land that not even birds get to see. I feel like being able to fly is like experiencing a small miracle, so I guess I’ll put up with a lot.
posted by sprezzy at 12:09 AM on February 21

This seems like one of the “edge cases” with people. Seems like most of the time it’s handled (with various degrees of resentment) in much calmer ways. Some very angry people out there. And some days are worse than others.
posted by aleph at 12:14 AM on February 21
In 2000, I reached Peak Humiliation on a plane when I was shamed by a flight attendant who refused to lend me the seatbelt extender until she made a lengthy and loud observation about my weight. It was already bad enough since I was in the middle seat between two men who wouldn’t share the armrests. Being fat seems to be just about as offensive as reclining. Never flew again.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:33 AM on February 21
Metafilter: We’ve already had these arguments previously.

(For some of us that never gets old. A very small number of us. Well, me. Also: reading this argument again reminds me we’ll never see capitalism clearly enough to do anything about it – the people who make things worse will always get away with it as long as they can get us to fight with each other. However, as someone who already this morning has had to unceremoniously dump one of those green hire bikes off the footpath where it was obstructing a lot of people including me, I suspect I’m one of life’s seat-thumpers rather than one of life’s recliners.)
posted by Grangousier at 1:14 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]

What if you’re 7’2”?
posted by growabrain at 1:17 AM on February 21
One pays for one’s seat

One is entitled to all aspects of one’s seat.

One aspect is the ability to recline.

I agree – – if the seat has a recliner function, one is entitled to use it.

However, with the ridiculously restricted seat pitch in Economy class on many airlines nowadays, I believe the recline function should be removed altogether.

As much as my back and I like to recline, I would still prefer the control of having a defined personal space that can’t be randomly deformed by strangers.

It’s that one last shred of dignity.
posted by fairmettle at 1:50 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]

Gods, that rambled on for a bit, didn’t it? Writer person surely got paid by the word for that article.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:15 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]
“Don’t talk to strangers during the commute.” I’m reminded of a past Mefi post: Want to feel happier? Talk to a stranger.
posted by gryftir at 2:36 AM on February 21
Thing I care about on planes: being able to breathe. Thing that makes that tough: planes with many dogs and cats.

It’s an impossible situation, because there exist people with genuine need to have an animal with them (yes, vet with PTSD who spent a chunk of the plane ride explaining how much your service dog had helped you, I get that you need the animal with you). I am sure there are even a pile of people with service animals who can’t afford the documentation but really need the animal.

But on the other side, I would really like to be able to make it through a plane flight taking only non-drowsy drugs. And above a certain number of animals, that’s just not possible, and it becomes Benadryl time. (I’ve actually started avoiding American flights because the sort of people who fly on them seem much more likely to be the sort of people who have gotten their pets documentation as support animals, as evidenced by the large numbers of animals on every plane of theirs I have been on in the last six months— hasn’t been a problem on Southwest at all).

Anyhow this isn’t an issue of airlines stuffing more seats in, it’s an issue of a conflict caused by stuffing a bunch of people with different needs in a tiny metal tube. The seat reclining issue is similar— the airlines have made it bad, but given the situation, who decides if a person should recline? Who has more right to the space, the guy who is 6’4” or the woman with a bad back in front of him?

I don’t know, but I do know that some of the issues are unresolvable, all of them are affected by if not a direct result of late stage capitalism, and in my discomfort I am most directly angry with the airline execs, who have added extra rows to the plane not to decrease my costs or help the environment, but to increase their own already obscene compensation. Dude repeatedly pushing on the seat oughtta be repeatedly pushing on those assholes instead.
posted by nat at 2:37 AM on February 21

My rule is very simple, don’t recline until the person behind me does
posted by mbo at 2:59 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]

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