Pushing buttons

With everything going on, "reclining seats on airplanes" somehow became the most divisive issue in America. Also: 7 other things worth a click.

My family and I were traveling over the weekend, but thank God, not by airplane.

That’s my reaction anyway, after a viral video last week sparked an insanely passionate debate over whether:

  • (a) airline passengers have the right to recline their seats, or else,

  • (b) passengers have the right to NOT have the person in front of them recline.

Here’s the video:

As you can see, it depicts a male passenger in the last row of an American Eagle flight, repeatedly pushing against the seat of the woman passenger in front of him.

The woman who posted the video says it’s because he objected to her pressing the button on her seat and reclining. She also says he'd actually been punching her seat before she started filming.

Thousands and thousands of people have reacted. They’re mostly 100 percent opposed to each other. Some examples:

  • “Why were you so inconsiderate? Reclining airline seats is such a dud move.”

  • “I’m 6’2”, travel extensively, and always pay for the extra leg room. This boy is in the wrong, that’s assault.”

  • “God bless this absolute HERO in the back row. If you recline in coach you’re an absolute SOCIOPATH!! EXPOSE HER!”

  • “Hero treatment? For bullying a woman who used the button on EVERY seat to recline? This is a joke right?”

  • “It is considered bad manners to recline more than an inch. … I am guilty of getting angry when someone does that when I'm stuck in economy.”

  • “I’ve worked as a flight crew for many years, and NO passenger has to ask permission to recline their seat inflight. Seat recline isn’t based on flight length or cabin class. These comments are absurd.”

  • “I’m 6’4 with size 17 shoes and I’m fine when someone reclines.”

  • “I DON’T fly coach for this very reason. I would never sit in the back of the plane with you animals.”

And so on. Seriously, the hardest part about writing today’s newsletter was culling through some of these replies, and cutting dozens more.

Personally, I agree with the CEO of Delta Air Lines, who was asked about this Friday, and who said: “I think customers have the right to recline.”

If doing so would be especially uncomfortable or unsafe for the passenger behind you, then yes, the polite thing to do is refrain or tone it down.

But in general on a plane, you pay for a seat that reclines (except for a few rows), and you also know that the person ahead of you is allowed to recline.

To me, it’s much the same as what you’d do if you legally had the right of way while driving, but there was someone jaywalking in the street. (You’d slow down or stop, I hope!)

Is this the issue of our time? I wouldn’t have thought so, but people have certainly reacted.

I’m curious to get your take. I know we will keep it civil here, but let us know in the comments if you have an opinion.

7 other things worth a click

  1. Some car dealers are offering crazy advice to would-be car shoppers who are still paying off their last car: just stop paying the loan, and ask the lender to repossess it. (The Wall Street Journal)

  2. A Texas man who had served 10 years of a life sentence for murder is “on a fast track to exoneration,” after a new computer analysis showed DNA at the crime scene probably came from someone else. (NBC News)

  3. A photographer is suing Getty for $1 billion after it tried to bill her for her own photo. (LA Times)

  4. Researchers are studying how birds “retweet” news to one another. (Science Daily)

  5. 44 Americans on a cruise ship were diagnosed with the coronavirus. (The Washington Post, via The Hour)

  6. Why aren’t more smart people rich? A researcher provides an interesting answer. Inc.)

  7. It costs a few thousand dollars to get an (illegal) electronic device that overcomes locks and electronic ignitions, and can theoretically let you steal luxury cars. (Vice)

I had a technical glitch that delayed the send on this today; sorry to those who pay me the world’s greatest compliment by actively looking for Understandably in their inboxes.

Ideas and feedback actively solicited. If you haven’t subscribed, please do so! (You can also just send an email to signup@understandably.com.)

If you liked this post, please share it!


And if you’d like to comment please do so. If you don’t see the comment box, please click here to load the page.