A Call to End Reclining Seats on Planes

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  02.20.13 | 1:30 PM ET

Like many of us, Slate’s Dan Kois hates it when the person in front of him on a plane reclines their seat all the way—making it nearly impossible for him to watch his seatback TV, use his tray table, or even get in and out of his chair very easily. But instead of calling for passengers to use some restraint and common sense (I’m a never-recline-more-than-halfway gal, myself), he goes further: He demands an end to reclining seats entirely. Here’s Kois:

The problem isn’t with passengers, though the evidence demonstrates that many passengers are little better than sociopaths acting only for their own good. The problem is with the plane. In a closed system in which just one recliner out of 200 passengers can ruin it for dozens of people, it is too much to expect that everyone will act in the interest of the common good. People recline their seats because their seats recline. But why on earth do seats recline? Wouldn’t it be better for everyone if seats simply didn’t?

I’m convinced. What do you think? (Via @legalnomads)

Tags: Air Travel

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

5 Comments for A Call to End Reclining Seats on Planes

MARCY GORDON 02.20.13 | 2:04 PM ET

I think the airlines are missing a revenue oppourtunity here. They should create no-recline seating areas and charge pax like Dan extra to sit there. All the upright and uptight people can sit together.  Maybe it could be next to the crying baby section. The seat recline situation is like dominos, once one seat reclines they all go in response.

I think the real problem with flying today is people have some crazy idea they are entitled to have a smooth and comfortable flight. Planes should have an inscriptions over the main portal—All ye who enter here—abandon all hope of comfort.

Gregg 02.21.13 | 10:48 AM ET

I would really agree with this rule, it gets seriously frustrating when your meal comes and the person in front has to leave their seat reclined, it makes eating almost impossible.  And I don’t think that the small distance the seats recline really helps that much in people getting to sleep

Ben Keene 02.22.13 | 12:15 AM ET

As one commenter on Twitter pointed out, both Amtrak and Bolt/Mega/Greyhound/Peter Pan offer more legroom. Those of us who have set out on long distance drives are also accustomed to a bit of space, even though we know we’ll be cooped up in a car for six, eight, or ten hours. Is it really unreasonable to expect some hope of comfort in the air?

Corie Neumayer 02.24.13 | 11:44 AM ET

I agree with this call to end reclining seats. For those who are tall, it is torture to have minimal space to move your legs.  Not everyone can afford to upgrade.

American Visa 03.06.13 | 3:23 AM ET

I also agree that reclining seats is not a good idea on a plane since a lot of passengers will be having trouble moving or making themselves comfortable on their place while other passengers is reclining in front of them. I think plane should follow the measurement on the distance between each chair if it can recline so that they are no troubled passenger on board.

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