Decline to Recline

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

{Pull up a chair, grab some cookies, and start soaking your tea bags, folks.  I’m on a soap box and I might be here for awhile…}

As I mentioned before, we spent some great time in Savannah last week.  As such, we also spent a little time on an airplane which led me to post the following status update on Facebook:

“Fact: I automatically think you’re a bad person if you recline your seat on an airplane.”

I wrote it half joking…but 100% serious.  The first thing that goes through my mind when the person in front of me reclines their seat is, “Are you serious??  You think I have extra room back here or something??” 

The reaction I received to my status was mixed—most applauded and agreed and helped argue my case—while others defended their stance {or just flat out said, “Sorry. I recline my seat.”}.  I really didn’t expect to receive so many comments.  But I did.  Which led me to really turn this issue over in my head.  I lay in bed for a solid hour because I took way too long a nap  reasoning why I am so damn annoyed by reclining airline seats.

But before I begin my foray into WHY YOU SHOULD NOT RECLINE YOUR SEAT ON AN AIRPLANE, I will preface my essay by saying this: I am actually a really nice person.  I am fairly laid back, patient, and like to think that it takes a lot to really rev my engine. I’m not confrontational. I’m not a complainer. And I don’t return my food at restaurants.  But I will think very bad thoughts about you if you’re sitting in front of me and lean your seat back into my knees.

Allow me to make a few points…provide some food for thought, have you, before you try to get all comfy on an airplane at someone else’s expense…

Keep in mind, the passenger behind you, a perfect stranger, has no relationship with you!  You have no credit with them.  They have no idea how many orphans you adopted last week.  How many churches you pastor.  How many tears you shed at that Sarah McLaughlin commercial.  With that one click of your little seat button, you’re automatically grouped with the puppy kickers.


Because with that one little button and one “little” recline, you are saying… “I know we’ve each been allotted a mere six inches of space, but I am going to take three of yours because my comfort is more important than yours.”  I struggle to think of any air travel misstep more offensive—it is blatantly selfish and inconsiderate of the person sitting behind you.

Consider the number of times the passenger behind you has said the following after you reclined your seat:

  • “It’s cool.  I didn’t want to actually be able to get anything out of my purse under the seat.  I wanted press my face against the seat tray while I hone my stereognosis skills trying to find my headphones.”
  • “No really, it’s not a problem.  I didn’t want to politely excuse myself to the restroom by stepping over my neighbor.  I wanted to make the entire row stand up and clear out because your seat is in the way.”
  • “Yes!  I’ve missed sitting in a highchair!  I love having my seat tray connected to my belly button!  It catches all of my food and I am a seriously messy eater. Thank you.”
  • “It’s cool.  I didn’t want to cross or un-cross my legs—I wanted to sit in perfect 90 degree posture for the next three hours.  I hear it’s awesome for your circulation.”

Are there exceptions to the rule?  Sure.  If you’re six months pregnant.  If you’re Shaquille O’Neal {*cough* exit row *cough*}. If your five year old just threw up and needs to sit in your lap.  If your baby is screaming and this is the only thing that will stop it. If you’re being transported to Hospice and your dying wish is to fly in a reclined coach seat on American Airlines.  Go for it.  I will try to be less annoyed by you.

{Though, I’m also inclined {not reclined- hahaha} to suggest you apply that same scenario to the person behind you—what if they’re 6’5? What if they have a baby? What if they’re also sick and have a big meeting and need to sleep?  Everyone’s uncomfortable and got a valid reason—you still want to take their space?}

But I digress…. Buy the person a drink!  Buy ‘em a snack pack.  Apologize. Pass them a note folded up into a pretty origami swan. Do something that says, “Hey, I acknowledge that I am making you more uncomfortable so that I can be more comfortable for a reason you had absolutely nothing to do with.  I’m sorry.”

I don’t know WHY seats are allowed to recline in the first place.  Perhaps they were constructed in a time where you actually had eight whole inches of space and there was room to spare.  Who knows.  Doesn’t matter.  No one has any room these days, so you shouldn’t take theirs.

At the end of the day, if you really need the space, upgrade your seat. Spring for the exit row. Business class.  First class.  Whatever.  But come on people—don’t act like you’re better than the person behind you.  We’re all in coach together—let’s all suffer through it.

“Don’t worry, there’s much more a sense of community in coach.” – Helen Harris the 3rd

{Respondez-vous or don’t.  Bring on your wrath! I will only judge you for admitting in public you recline your seat in coach.}

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program. Happy Tuesday! Smiley face.

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