Recliner wars at 30,000 feet

Air etiquette: Should you ask the person behind you if you can recline your seat? Airlines are to blame for the ever-shrinking space between seats, causing tempers to flare.



February 19, 2020 - 9:55 AM

Photo by Mike Shelton/King Features

It’s time to weigh in on the big online debate of the moment. No, it’s not about whether Attorney General William Barr should be fired, whether putting an cruise ship on quarantine contains or spreads the coronavirus, whether the Houston Astros should be stripped of their 2017 World Series title for cheating.

No, we’re talking about the controversy that really makes Americans air travelers’ blood boil: Do they have a right to recline their seats — or do they need to ask permission from the passenger behind them?

The issue has come to the fore because of the online posting of a video showing a conflict between two passengers on a Jan. 31 American Eagle flight between New Orleans and Charlotte, N.C. The video taken by a women in a reclined seat showed the man seated behind her rhythmically pushing the back of her seat out of irritation at the intrusion into what he regarded as his space. The videographer, Wendi Williams, said this continued throughout the flight.

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