Why you should never recline your seat according to etiquette experts

Why you should never recline your seat according to etiquette experts

Etiquette experts say you should only recline your seat on a flight in these circumstances

  • Long haul flights can be particularly painful if you’re stuck in an upright position
  • However… etiquette experts advise against reclining your seat all the way back  

One day you’ll be able to afford to fly first class, you say to yourself, thinking of those smug passengers tucked up in their little bunks as you slide your seat back.

But not so fast. You are committing the ultimate sin, according to etiquette experts who claim reclining your airline seat is the height of bad manners.

With ample legroom becoming a thing of the past, economy class can no longer accommodate selfish seat recliners, say the experts.

Etiquette aficionado Diane Gottsman said: ‘Unless you were sitting in a seat with extra legroom, or in first class, it would be inconsiderate to recline your seat.’

Reclining your seats back on economy flights could be a bad idea; experts consider it inconsiderate and potentially harmful to the person sat behind you 

Nick Leighton, an etiquette expert and podcast host, told USA today: ‘You should never recline your seat if a passenger behind you is working on their laptop.

‘Nobody likes their laptop snapped in half,’ Leighton said. 


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Do you recline your seat on a plane?

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One passenger shared her experience of this happening on a flight, Travel writer Tarah Chieffi for The Points Guy: ‘I didn’t know it was physically possible for this to happen.’

Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, another etiquette expert said: ‘Avoid reclining when the majority of the passengers are enjoying a snack or meal.’

Suddenly reclining your seat when a passenger is eating or drinking may result in spilled food or drink – or an even worse outcome if it’s a hot drink.

To avoid disaster the experts advised to first ask the person if you can or, at the very least, check what they are doing.  

Christopher Elliot, consumer advocate and journalist, said to never recline your seat if the passenger behind you is tall, injured or disabled. 

‘I was on crutches after a ski accident left me with a broken pelvis and I used up every inch of personal space,’ he said.

He warned that reclining your seat back could cause the vulnerable passenger to be carried out of the plane on a stretcher. 

Etiquette experts say passengers should never recline their seat if the person behind you is eating or drinking as it may result in an accident 

Elliot said putting your seat back when children are behind you is also unacceptable as children might put their fingers between the seats and could be injured. 

He said there are only a few circumstances which grants reclining your seat such as on a redeye flight or if you have certain ailments such as having a bad back.

Elliot shared tips on how to deal with a person reclining their seat into your personal space. 

He suggested moving to a different seat if one is available, or try persuading someone to switch seats with you.

Asking the person in front of you to lift their chair up is also a good idea, as many will be willing to compromise. 

If that doesn’t work, he suggested calling a flight attendant for help who might be able to negotiate with them better.

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