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One time I almost got into a fight because I reclined my airplane seat all the way back and the guy behind would just kick the seat without verbally requesting that I reset it. A flight attendant came by and reseated the guy in an empty business class seat. AITA for insisting on reclining?

My question is: what is the common etiquette regarding this issue? Am I entitled to recline it as far back as it will go regardless of what the guy behind thinks about it? I am inclined to think yes because, if he is so big that the reclined seat in front of him makes him uncomfortable, he should be buying 1st class seat. I am 6'1" and never denied anyone in front of me to recline. Leaving this up to an agreement leaves the messy question how far back it is ethical to recline. The safest assumption would be, IMO, that everyone is entitled to go all the way back, clean and simple. But I am open to deliberation.

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    Whether this was an overnight flight when everybody is expected to sleep versus you reclining brutally while someone is trying to read or watch a movie on their laptop or something could make a big difference. Etiquette is precisely about this and does not necessarily boil down to anyone simply being “entitled” to anything.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 2, 2023 at 18:09
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    Dammmm... they should've reseated YOU to business class. Mental note: always kick the seat in front of me. Mar 2, 2023 at 21:47
  • I’m voting to close this question because this question seems to be designed to be provocative, not as a genuine travel question.
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 2, 2023 at 23:26
  • So you got to recline the seat, the guy annoyed by your reclining the seat got a business place seat, win-win. Plus, "if he is so big that the reclined seat in front of him makes him uncomfortable, he should be buying 1st class seat. " same apply to OP, if he think he needs to recline the seat to be comfortable, he should be buying 1st class seat to be sure he can.
    – EarlGrey
    Mar 3, 2023 at 10:32

2 Answers 2

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We are not forced to keep the door open for the next person coming through the door, we are not forced to give priority to children or the senior citizens, we are not forced to do many other things, yet humans somehow decided that this is the "nice" thing to do. Sometimes it's in our favor, some other times it is not, that's how it works.

So, to answer your question: You are not forced by the rules, but it is the nice thing to do according to the unwritten human rules.

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  • which means it is up to my volition to give up reclining and no one can demand it from me. just like charity
    – amphibient
    Mar 2, 2023 at 19:53
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    @amphibient you might want to edit your question and clarify: you asked AITA, not if there is some sort of law. Of course there is no law that mandates common courtesy, but that isn't what the question seems to be about. One can be TA without breaking any laws.
    – terdon
    Mar 2, 2023 at 20:03
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This may be a question of opinion, but I have never understood how anyone can be so inconsiderate and entitled as to fully recline the seat of an airplane on anything other than long haul overnight flights. And even then, you do it with care, slowly and with consideration for the people behind you.

If you don't even bother to check behind you first, that just makes it worse. Reclining means you are greatly reducing my space, if you don't check behind you you can easily hit me, if I have things on the table they can be damaged, and is just plain rude and inconsiderate. We all have very limited space on planes, so the least we can do is try to be decent to each other and not hog all the space.

Reclining a little is one thing, but all the way back and without warning is, to me, a clear sign that the person sitting in front of me is selfish and inconsiderate. Your use of the term "entitled" is spot on, but it isn't the ones into whose faces you are pushing your chair who are entitled.

More generally, you are basically asking "is it OK for me to do what I want even if I am bothering others and they complain?" I hope the answer is obvious: of course it isn't! If your behavior is bothering other people, how would you think you somehow have a "right" to keep doing it? Yes, sometimes people object to things for no reason, but having a chair shoved into my face is a pretty good reason to object.

Now, it does sound like the person behind you was also not nice, kicking is hardly a good way of communicating, but I don't see how either one of you is shown in a good light here.

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    I have been in the last row of a plane without the option to recline (alright with me in itself as I do not like to recline) but if the person in front of me would have gone all the way back I might have gotten in trouble.
    – Willeke
    Mar 2, 2023 at 19:07
  • why doesn't the airline manufacturer disable reclining in that case?
    – amphibient
    Mar 2, 2023 at 19:08
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    "If your behavior is bothering other people, how would you think you somehow have a "right" to keep doing it" -- people are bothered by other people's legitimate rights all the time. I can say the sky is blue and someone will be bothered. that someone is bothered is not a moral imperative of any sort
    – amphibient
    Mar 2, 2023 at 19:10
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    @amphibient yes, which is why the very next sentence was "Yes, sometimes people object to things for no reason, but having a chair shoved into my face is a pretty good reason to object." In the vast, vast majority of cases, if someone asks you to stop doing something that bothers them and you start yapping about how you have a "right" to bother them, they are probably going to be right.
    – terdon
    Mar 2, 2023 at 19:12
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    I have a bad back. I need a reclining seat to be tolerable, so I will only buy seats that have a minimum amount of recline. If the airline is offering and advertising the feature than I think its ok for me to actually use it. Some airlines do NOT offer reclining seats and I don't fly them. If they do offer it, I have to assume that the airplane is designed in a way that the feature can actually be used.
    – Hilmar
    Mar 2, 2023 at 23:42

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