When you can recline your seat on an airplane and when you shouldn't: etiquette expert's advice

By TravelWiseFeb 27, 2024 09:26 AMNews
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When you can recline your seat on an airplane and when you shouldn't: etiquette expert's advice
The reclining seat on an airplane is a controversial issue. Source: Freepik

Reclining a seat on an airplane is a very controversial issue, as half of the population believes that since seats can be reclined, you can do it whenever you want, while the other half thinks it's rude and impolite.

It's hard to reach an agreement with both sides, and the same old arguments come up every time. Some say it's rude to take up the already scarce legroom of others, others argue that it can lead to drinks or food falling on them, and there's also the awkward moment when your knees get bruised from a sudden bend," the DailyStar website says.

The other half of passengers believe that reclining should be optional, as many people have back problems or want to sleep. They say that when you encounter a lounge chair, you should simply recline to make extra space.

Etiquette expert Katarina, @katarina.etiquette, says it's okay to recline, but only at certain times. In a TikTok video, she made a viral video on the "right topic". She said: "The reclining seat is an available feature on most flights, so it's not prohibited."

However, she confirmed that you should be mindful of the people around you before reclining your chair. If they are leaning over to get something out of their bag or leaning on a table with a tray, you could accidentally hit them.

"However, good manners are to always check on the passenger behind us before leaning back. If they are eating with an open table or watching a movie on a screen in a chair, you shouldn't disturb them," the expert says.

In addition, there are some airplane trips when, according to her, you shouldn't lean back. Katarina said: "Personally, I wouldn't recommend reclining at all on short flights." Short-haul flights usually last less than three and a half hours, so most people can make it through without reclining.

People in the comments were surprised by the video - some said they had never thought that reclining could bother anyone. One person noted: "No one has ever asked me if it's okay if I lean back, they just do it. I'm not very tall, so it doesn't affect me too much."

Another said: "I have to lean back for a medical reason (I just had major spinal surgery) and it's always so awkward to ask the person sitting behind me to explain why."

But Katarina confirmed that if you have a legitimate need to move your chair back, it makes a difference. If medical reasons intervene, then that's a different story! There is a function for this, so that you are not prohibited from leaning back.

Katharina is not the only travel professional who says when you should and should not lean back. Nicky Calvin, a British travel expert from The Points Guy, says his one golden rule of airplane etiquette is to leave your seat up at key points.

He commented: "Don't recline your seat while eating. In economy class with limited space, it's harder to eat if the person in front of you leans back. Some airline crews ask passengers to raise their seats while eating, but despite this, you should do so out of respect for the person sitting behind you."

When you can recline your seat on an airplane and when you shouldn't: etiquette expert's advice
The brothers shared a clip showing a man taking a break during a flight. Source: @thepointerbrothers/Tiktok

Two brothers shared their irritation with the "most reclined seat in the history of aviation" during their recent flight. The Poynter brothers, who share viral videos on TikTok, have amassed more than 4 million views of their post. As a joke, the brothers show a red card that football referees remove from the field to demonstrate their irritation with the guy sitting in front of them.

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