Updated: Feb 25, 2021
How do you get comfortable on a long flight? Are you the head bobber? The travel neck pillow sleeper? Or the recliner?
By now, I'm sure all travelers, and even non-avid travelers, have heard or read about the grand debate that is ongoing as it pertains to passenger comfort and passenger courtesy.
Well, let's start at the beginning.
We all know unless you drop some extra cash, some amenities like extra space, privacy, and flight luxuries should not be expected. Well, some recent incidents took place (and went viral) that have many questioning if one of the few amenities available to the majority of all passengers is an amenity at all. The question at hand is whether or not a passenger should recline his/her seat on a flight. Delta Airlines released a statement asking passengers to ask first before reclining. (Now, mind you last year, Delta Airlines made the controversial move of limiting how far back their seats reclined from 4 inches to 2.) But this statement merely fanned the flames of this incipient fire into one that was fully developed. More questions added to the growth of the flames such as: why should I ask for something I "paid for", why should I remain uncomfortable for a stranger's comfort, why is it my responsibility (as the paying passenger) to negotiate with another passenger the logistics of the flight, if the seats were not intended to be reclined, why do they recline at all, etc. Now, while sure, some may think the aforementioned commentary is just rude and inconsiderate, no one can deny that the comments raised some valid and interesting points. Is it the responsibility of the passenger to get an understanding of how the plane is designed and will be used? And how exactly would airlines like passengers to go about this request? Should passengers ask before reclining insincerity or as a nicety? If it's the latter, what happens when someone says, "No"?
There are so many factors to consider! One common understanding that it seems everyone is one accord with is that if it is time for an inflight meal, all seats should be erect to their non-reclined state. Other than that, it's a jungle in the friendly skies!
Washington Post has a list that was released in 2019 about when it's okay to recline, and honestly, the list is exhausting and requires you to be something like a creep, watching the moves of the person behind you through a small crack in between the seats. Personally, I rarely ever recline my seat. I find other ways to get comfy. I am a considerate person, but let's be real, those seats don't recline that much. I am not turning around, which would be fairly uncomfortable in itself, to ask about reclining 2-4 inches. When I do recline, I do it slowly and make sure that during meal times, my chair is in an upright position.
Bottom line: if my reclining makes someone completely uncomfortable, they should consider purchasing a seat that comes with more legroom.
So, the ball is in the airlines' court. What will they do to make flying conditions better? What will it take before a solution is reached? Thus far, British Airways and Spirit Airlines are the only airlines that have made serious moves in attempts to solve this grand debate. B.A. purchased several new planes that include seats that do not recline at all. Eliminating the need for the debate entirely. If other airlines go this route, I suggest people get their nap on as I do, lean forward to the food tray with pillows, and go night-night. Spirit Airlines, on February 21, 2020, posted on Instagram that they redesigned their cabins with their guests in mind, so their seats will come pre-reclined and there will be "no room for debate". It looks like it's Spirit Airlines for the win. I am intrigued and waiting to see how other airlines will respond.
What are your thoughts?