Fight for Your Right to Recline Your Airline Seat


An airline passenger has the right to recline the seat they purchased.

Why is this even a question? According to New York's NBC 4, another flight has been diverted due to passengers fighting over a reclined seat.

Delta airlines told NBC affiliate WPTV in West Palm Beach that Flight 2370 landed in Jacksonville, Florida, "due to safety reasons in regard to a passenger issue." A witness on the plane told WPTV that a woman who was knitting tried to recline her seat, angering a woman who was trying to sleep on the tray table.

This is just days after a flight out of Newark (both flights are out of the New York area, coincidence?) over the same issue.

It's no shock that people can be jerks on a plane, especially New Yorkers apparently, but what is surprising is the debate that has erupted on social media over the basic question of the right to recline versus the right to leg room.

There's no debate. If you purchase a seat that reclines, you have a right to recline it. End of discussion.

It is shocking how many take the opposing view.

My Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with brilliant individuals who agree with me on basic principles of smaller government, individual responsibility and the superiority of fantasy football over fantasy baseball, and yet these brilliant intellectuals actually believe it is wrong to recline the seat the full 2.25 inches US airlines grant you for a five-hour flight.

The advent of these evil "Knee Defender" clips that allow a person to steal a passengers God-given recline space has escalated the already-heated debate.

As a six foot, one inch person who travels almost every other week (usually from DC to LA and back), I have unique knowledge on this matter and I humbly submit that those of you maintaining the "right to cross your legs" over-rides the "right to recline" are misguided, at best.

The Huffington Post conducted a survey on the issue and most Americans agree with the "right to recline."

Fifty-five percent say it's acceptable airplane etiquette to recline your seat during a daytime flight, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows, while just 24 percent say it's unacceptable. On overnight flights, there's an even stronger consensus, with 78 percent saying reclining is OK, and just 9 percent that it's not.

Normally a poll reinforcing my position would make me feel pretty smug until I realize the disturbing fact that I have to site a Huffington Post survey to validate my point. That concern is easily assuaged after seeing the left-wing hacks at Slate lining up on the side of the leg room fascists:

Do you really want to be on their side of any debate? Meanwhile, if you don't want people reclining their seat in front of you, you have some options here. America is all about liberty and choice, right?

  • You can sit in the bulkhead row and no one will be in front of you at all, let alone infringe on your precious space with a recline.
  • You can sit behind the exit row seats that are prevented by the FAA from reclining (there, aren't you happy the federal government has finally come through for you?)
  • Or you can fly on budget airlines Spirit and Allegiant Air who have removed the reclining features from their seats altogether.

Of course, the fact that Spirit and Allegiant have removed reclining seats as one of the "frills" of airline travel sort of proves my point. Do we really want to live in a world where Spirit and Allegiant Airlines set the standards for our lives?

Let's agree that we can do better, America. And before you start complaining about your knees when I recline in front of you, take a flight to Manila on Philippine Airlines, in coach. You will cherish a flight on American to Chicago with a full recline in front of you after that.