P’s and Q’s of Seat Backs, Elbow Room, and Knee Caps

With personal space at a premium, reclining seats isn’t always OK

Yes, you paid for that seat 'rental', be a considerate neighbor.

Ed Hewitt, IndependentTraveler.com

We’ve all experienced it — mere moments after you fly over your car in the airport parking lot, the seat in front of you slams at full speed into full reclining position, bashing down against your knees. The passenger then rustles around to get comfortable, thumping against your knees again and again.

Or you reach down between your feet to pull out your headache medicine, and the seat back in front of you nails you in the noggin.

Or later in the flight, the meal cart comes and goes — but the seat back never does. The passenger in front of you leans forward over his meal so he can see it, forgetting that you can’t see yours because it’s buried under his seat back.

Or, as I once saw, the passenger in front of you has no other aisle mates, so she sprawls out across three seats, and to get even more comfortable, she puts all three seat backs in full reclining position! Uh, this is an airline, not a hotel…

No question, personal space is at a premium on airplanes. I believe there is a time for upright seats, and there is a time for reclining fully. Everything in its season, I read somewhere. Here’s my opinionated guide to the etiquette of reclining seat backs.


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