American Airlines Passenger Gets Her Seat Punched Constantly After Reclining

***Update: 02/12/20@16:55 – Added statement from American Airlines***

A passenger on an American Airlines flight faced the wrath of a man behind her when she had the sheer nerve to recline her seat. The female passenger alleges that the man repeatedly punched the back of her seat, and then set about being the most irritating he could possibly be for the remainder of the flight. Here’s what happened.

American eagle E175
The incident occurred onboard an American Eagle operated E175. Photo: Nathan Coats via Wikimedia

What happened?

Wendi was flying American Airlines on a normal short-haul flight. Leaving from New Orleans and traveling to Charlotte on the 31st January, Wendi was boarded onto an Embraer E175 operated by Republic Airways on behalf of American Airlines. After a while, she decided to take the opportunity to recline a little and get comfortable for the flight. However, the passenger behind was not happy.

Rather than requesting gently that she sit her seat a little more upright, the man behind allegedly punched the back of Wendi’s seat multiple times, she estimates around nine. At this point, she started filming.

Although the punching stopped, the passenger behind Wendi continued to make her life a misery by shaking her seat violently for some time. At one point he even looks up and smiles at the discomfort he is causing his fellow passenger. All the time, he barely breaks stride from watching his video on his mobile phone.

Wendi’s day only got worse when she was caught making the film by a flight attendant. She says that the flight attendant asked her to stop filming and seemed very off with her. The man behind, on the other hand, was offered a complimentary cocktail. She even said that the airline told her to “call the FBI” if she wanted to complain!

Simple Flying asked American Airlines about this incident, who told us,

“We are aware of a customer dispute that transpired on American Eagle flight 4392, operated by Republic Airways on January 31. The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority, and our team is looking into the issue.”

Who’s in the wrong here?

While the knee jerk reaction to a problem with seats being reclined is often to say, ‘don’t recline your seat then’, this situation does seem a bit bizarre. There was no meal service going on, the man behind seemed to have plenty of room, so we’re struggling to see what his problem was.

Clearly, there’s only one side of the story told here, and there are some pretty strong unwritten rules on reclining your seat on a flight. The BBC says you shouldn’t recline your seat during meal service or in the first few minutes after takeoff, but other than that, it’s your prerogative to do so if you wish.

However, if you do want to recline your seat, it’s often better to consult the person behind you rather than just slamming your seat back. It gives the opportunity for the person behind to ask you to wait, or, with any luck, to cheerfully agree.

Sadly for Wendi, it seems she got more than just a bumpy ride that day. Since the flight, she has allegedly been having problems with her back and has experienced headaches, which isn’t really a surprise given the discomfort she endured.

If it was you, would you have given in and just sat your seat up to stop the conflict? Or would you have stayed in recline mode on principle? Let us know in the comments.