Is it OK to recline your airplane seat?

Are you #TeamRecline or do you simply decline?

Few topics in travel elicit as heated of a debate than whether it’s in good taste to recline your seat on an airplane, so I decided to make a video discussing my views on the matter!  Give it a watch:

Sooooo, what say you? Is it a crime to recline? Or do you lean back as you please? What etiquette do you employ in these situations?

Have fun watching (I made sure to put a bit of a dance break in there LOL) and please like, subscribe, and share with all your friends!


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  • Reply
    January 26, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Wow I cannot believe planes actually get diverted. I am Team recline but has you said when its food time I won’t.

    • Reply
      May 29, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      I agree with all that you mentioned. I usually recline as well, for comfort and because it is a choice, but also because it almost becomes necessary when the person in front of me inclines and then their seat is practically in my face. Further, with the seat in front of you inclined, there is not enough room to exit for a bathroom break.

      It’s a shame airplanes are packing us is into smaller and smaller spaces. Whereas in the past there was First Class and everything else, now there is the ‘Preferred’ section, which means ‘pay more if you want more space’.

      In any event, I think it’s unreasonable to get agitated about being inconvenienced about someone inclining their seat. It is what it is. If annoyed, tell the airline. However, I see it as courteous to upright the seat during meal service. ?

  • Reply
    January 26, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    If the person in front of me is reclining then I have to recline to claim my space. I agree that I don’t recline during mealtimes. The airline business is very one sided and not in the favour of its customers. That being said the best airlines I’ve flown are Porter and Jet Blue. I was shocked and blown away by the service, generosity and smile on my recent JetBlue flight. I guess I have just come to expect airline abuse! Yes we should redirect our complaints to the airlines not our fellow passengers.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    I think this debate is silly! I totally agree with you – the seats are made to recline. If I recline mine, you can lean back as well and then we’re all more comfortable… If I’m on a really long flight you better believe I’m going to recline to try and get some sleep. People do way more annoying things on airplanes than utilize the manufactured purpose of their seat. I like to glance back before I recline so I don’t smack anyone’s head or interrupt their meal but… Psht. Team recline all the way!

  • Reply
    January 26, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    I guess I’m in the “it depends” camp. Like, if it’s a long flight and people are sleeping, of course you should recline your seat (and I’m going to recline mine). But if you are in the emergency row in front of me on a 2-hour daytime flight with plenty of leg room, AND you physically look back and see me working on my laptop on the tiny tray table and then you STILL decide to FULLY recline your seat… well, that’s just rude.

    And the people who refuse to put their seat backs up during meal times really infuriate me. I don’t care if you paid for your seat – I paid for mine, too, and I have the right to actually be able to eat my meal.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    It depends. 9 time out of 10, I don’t recline cos I’m short, and I really don’t fall asleep on planes and I usually feel bad for the person behind me. However, if the person in front of me reclines, then all bets are off.

    Now If I’m sitting in business class, Err even if I don’t fall asleep I turn the darn thing into a bed and lay there, just cos I can, and because its paid for and I feel like I cannot waste the reclin-ability of those bad boys 🙂

  • Reply
    Omo and Eulanda
    January 27, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Definitely a touchy subject. The trick is to recline early BEFORE the food service begins. Usually right after take off and seat belt signs are turned off. This way boundaries are established early and if there needs to be a conversation about it, better to have it out sooner rather than later. When you do recline, it is the polite thing to look back and make sure no one gets head butted (been the victim before) or gets their laptop screen cracked (been there too) or gets their food on their face. There’s usually that “window of reaction” right after reclining when both parties can verbally or non verbally negotiate. My final word…we should all fly business class from now on 🙂

  • Reply
    January 27, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Definitely not a crime to recline! It’s all about using proper judgement. I would absolutely hate to be in an upright position for hours at a time. I have arthritis and putting that much strain on my back is a no-no in my book. I do however, take a moment to look bacl just to ensure that I won’t be injuring the person seated behind of me. I’ve actually seen someone bending forward (maybe for a magazine in the seat pocket?) just as I was about to recline. I simply waited for them to sit up before I did so. As Oneika said, the majority of us are paying customers on the flight, and the seats would not have the reclining function if doing so was prohibited. Team Lean Back all the way!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    It is absolutely OK to recline your seat – otherwise, it wouldn’t have that function! Never keep your seat reclined during meal time (that’s just rude…) but otherwise, I’m all for it!

    PS: Never knew this was a huge debate! That’s hilarious.

  • Reply
    February 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    Here’s a question…the seat is made to recline and by rights of having purchased a ticket, I can recline my seat if I want. But I’ve had an extremely tall person in the seat behind me and their knees were up against the back of the seat. I couldn’t recline because there was no where for the seat to go. This was a long-haul flight and I had to sit upright the entire time. Is this fair to me? What to do in this situation?

  • Reply
    Brett A.
    February 12, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    You are right and here is why: I am a pilot with a major international airline. It is both my personal and the Airline’s opinion that you have every right to recline your seat. I can tell you that, as the Captain of the plane, if there is a problem on my plane over someone reclining their plane, it is usually started by the person behind the recliner. That person is in the wrong. At best they will be asked to discontinue any negative behavior. At worst, if it escalates to the point where it is causing a problem, the plane will be diverted and I will have them arrested. If you sit behind someone who reclines their seat and you don’t like it, too bad. If you start shoving the seat, arguing with the other passengers or the Flight Attendants, or in any way cause a problem…. you will be removed from the flight, possibly in handcuffs. You have the option of purchasing an exit row seat, or some other seat with more leg room if you don’t like the person in front of you reclining. They paid for their ticket, and they have a right to recline.

    I hope that gives some clarification. ‘Nuf said.

    • Reply
      Brett A.
      February 12, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Typo…. meant to say “if there is a problem on my plane over someone reclining their seat….”

  • Reply
    February 17, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    I only recline if the person in front of me has reclined. And I always turn around and ask the person if they’re okay!

  • Reply
    Freddie B
    February 25, 2016 at 7:57 am

    It depends. If you have a tall person behind you I think you should TRY not to recline. If the flight is longer than 2 hours or so then recline for a bit is reasonable. Me being 6’2″, it is sometimes annoying when im on a hour or so flight and the person in front of me wants to recline and then cut off the millimeter of leg space i had to work with to begin with. It’s all about common courtesy for your fellow man.

  • Reply
    February 29, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    I never recline my seat – even if the person in front of me has. It annoys me so much and I think airlines should either always be reclined or not able to.

    Luckily I’m a petite 5,1 female so it’s not a huge space issue but it’s already claustrophobic enough being on a plane, we don’t need to feel more trapped.

  • Reply
    March 30, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Wow! Didn’t know this was a debate either. I definitely recline my seat (but do always have an initial feeling of “sorry”!) I think it’s interesting that some people mention taking into account if someone is tall or not? I’m tall and I wouldn’t expect someone to size me up before deciding. I go on seat guru especially to make sure my seat can recline. I just flew Lufthansa from Frankfurt to Tampa and they specifically made people put their seats up during meals which I thought was great.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Just because I am tall, I do get annoyed when people recline their seats. However, I never say anything or make a stink about it because the seats do recline and that person has a right to recline their seat. I do think the rage needs to be redirected to the airlines. I remember having to pray to get the emergency exit seat on the way to Miami last year because my 6’4 friend was with us and when he gets stuck behind someone it’s not pretty because his knees are in their back just because of the tight space (luckily we did get that spot, thank you Southwest priority boarding). There really isn’t enough room on flights, but since the seats do recline, I don’t feel like I have the right to get made at the person in front of me.

  • Reply
    May 29, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    I don’t recline typically. And I think the airlines, with the exception of Jet Blue, are repulsive for the way they’ve crammed us in like livestock. If the leg room is unreasonably tight I absolutely put my knees up if the person in front tries to recline too far. The leg room on most flights is ridiculous and I’m only 5’5″.

  • Reply
    April 18, 2017 at 7:19 am

    In AUS the reclining angle is very small so it should infringe too much on the person behind. There is also the option of choosing an emergency exit seat, which has more leg room, cannot recline and has no one reclining in front. So non recliners can sit together if they please

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