Charlie Buttrey

February 15, 2020

When an airline adds seats to its plane, something has to give. That something is leg room. Another thing that appears to be going is civility.

USAToday reports of an incident on a recent American Airlines flight in which a woman leaned her seat back, but the gentleman behind her told her he was still eating and asked her to return the seat to its upright position. She did, and when he was done with her meal, she reclined again.

He didn’t like that, so he punched her seat back. Repeatedly. And when she complained to the cabin crew, they evidently took his side. The entire kerfuffle has wended its way to — where else? — the twitterverse, where various people with a lot of time on their hands have been chiming in on whether people should recline in the first place.

Here’s my take: You know that button that allows you to recline your seat? It’s there so that you can recline your seat. You’ve PAID so that you can recline your seat. Can you you guess which side of the debate I am on?

My practice, however, is always to ask the person behind me if they mind if I do so (bear in mind, the total distance that a modern airplane seat can recline can’t be more than two inches; on the other hand, that may not be as insignificant as it may sound with today’s ultra-snug seats). To date, not a single person has ever said “no.”

So I don’t yet know what I’ll do the first time my request is refused.

© 2019 Charlie Buttrey Law by Nomad Communications