Decline The Recline

May 11, 2015

seat“Do you recline your seat on an airplane?” That’s typically one of the first questions asked of new employees when we gather to welcome them to Fast Horse. The queries get progressively more odd, but none are more controversial. Calling this a polarizing topic would be an understatement. And not just at Fast Horse.

I’ve witnessed passengers having words over reclining on two different flights in the last year. And the issue gained national attention last fall when a few flights had to be diverted due to near-brawls.

I actually started writing this post on my last flight, as the gentleman in front of me reclined with such suddenness and force that his seat trapped the monitor of my laptop and nearly broke it. That wasn’t my worst experience, however, which occurred when a giant dude actually broke his seat back and managed to recline completely into my lap for three hours. I’m not one to cause a scene, so I didn’t say anything, but I remember fantasizing about using my power cord as a makeshift garrote.

Sadly, the glamorous days of commercial air travel are long gone. People turn into barbarians at 30,000 feet. Bare feet, short fuses, so much flatulence. But sitting behind a recliner is still my worst nightmare. I’m just a shade over six feet tall, and there’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a middle seat with a metal bar gauging into my knees. Thank goodness I’m not lankier — or claustrophobic.

I will not recline on a flight if someone is sitting behind me, but I’m resigned to the fact that as long as it’s an option, others have the right to do so.

So, what’s my solution? By continually shrinking legroom in coach class over the last few decades, the airlines have caused this problem. Now they should help solve it.

The easiest fix would be to add a buffer back in, but we all know that’s not going to happen for cost reasons. They could eliminate reclining altogether, but I’m sure many passengers would see that as another takeaway. Or they could get creative.

What if reclining became a premium that benefited the person impacted by it rather than the airline? The moment someone hits that button and invades your space, $20 is added to the price of his/her ticket — and $20 is transferred to you in the form of cash or miles. That’s my idea – what’s yours?