Indian Ministry Of Aviation Chimes In On Seat Recline Debate

Following the shocking incident onboard an American Airlines flight, the Indian Ministry of Aviation has tweeted out a quick reminder. The tweet focuses on reminding everyone on the etiquette of reclining your seat and ensuring comfort for all onboard.

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The tweet comes following an incident onboard an American Eagle flight. Photo: Nathan Coats via Wikimedia

The video shows a man repeatedly punching a woman’s reclined seat very hard, causing her seat to shake. The man punches the seat multiple times, according to the woman, and then moves on to jiggling it annoyingly. This was all because the woman reclined her seat.

The flight attendant, according to the woman, did nothing to help but called her out for filming the incident. This video triggered a backlash against the conduct of the man but also raised some questions. The main question is around the etiquette of when to recline your airplane seat. Many people chimed in on this debate, including the Indian Ministry of Aviation.

What is this all about?

On Saturday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation tweeted about the importance of being considerate when reclining one’s seat. They warned against treating flight seats like a train sleeper berth and reclining all the way into the person behind you. This tweet was meant to lay out some rules on flying etiquette to ensure everyone is respectful of others’ space.

The tweet did not go down amazingly well, despite its good intentions. People called for regulation on the space between seats and claimed that seats barely recline more than a few inches on most flights anyway. Most blamed the airlines for “packing people like sardines” and the government for enabling them.

There was also anger directed at the government, claiming most officials either occupy the front seats with extra legroom or travel in first or business class, painting them as elites for calling out reclining passengers in economy. Some even claimed the government was trying to justify the actions of the man in the video.

While the tweet’s goal was admirable, clearly people do not want etiquette being dictated by the government.

What is this debate all about and what’s the solution?

The debate centers around how much, if any at all, a person should recline their seat with someone sitting behind them. The last few years have seen seats becoming narrower and with less pitch, meaning that recline is a touchy subject. While reclining can reduce the pain of flying in these seats, it also means the person behind you loses substantial space.

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The rise of slimline seats has exacerbated the recline debate. Photo: Frontier

This narrows the debate into two sides; the ones who feel entitled to recline their seat (they’ve paid for it) and those who believe its discourteous and doesn’t let the person behind remain comfortable (especially with the tray table open).

Both sides do seem to have a valid point, but personally I aim for a middle ground. In this case, you don’t recline your seat right after takeoff, during the meal service but you can after that. This is contingent on asking the person behind you if you can recline and if yes, how much.

What do you think about seat recline? Is it your right, as a fare paying passenger, or is it just rude?