Delta Airlines’ CEO Confirms The Airplane Etiquette For Reclining Your Seat
— 18 February 2020

Delta Airlines’ CEO Confirms The Airplane Etiquette For Reclining Your Seat

— 18 February 2020

The old ‘to recline or not to recline’ argument over your aeroplane seat has hit new levels of controversy after a lady by the name of Wendi Williams uploaded a video of the passenger behind her ‘punching’ the back of her seat on a recent American Airlines flight. 

Since then, people who prefer to recline their seats have been called everything from selfish monsters to victims of violence. Which is why in light of the debate, we thought we’d weigh in on the matter of flying fairly.

Don’t be inconsiderate (obviously)

There’s every chance the person behind you has a hot coffee or meal balancing on the back of your seat. If that’s not the case, then it could well be a laptop or tablet that’s likely to get jammed between your seat and their tray. So don’t be a dick, ask first – or at the least just glance behind you – before you lean back. 

For some weird reason, people tend to act entitled on flights. Air travel isn’t new anymore. Everyone does it, and it’s a tight-knit battleground for personal space to the point that it’s pretty much non-existent as soon as you step aboard. We’re literally all in the same… plane. Acknowledging that there are other people of equal standing around you is probably the most important point in this debate.


Seats are made to be reclined. If you’re on a red-eye and want some shut-eye, you should be able to lean back and relax. You paid for that seat, right? With the following stipulation.

Be a gentleman about it

Delta Air Lines CEO, Ed Bastian, said, “The proper thing to do is, if you’re going to recline into somebody, you ask if it’s OK first. I never recline because I don’t think it’s something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me.”

Sage advice, and refreshing to hear that the 6’3” CEO of Delta does actually fly cattle class on most of his domestic trips because he thinks it’s good practice. Going one step further, he recently imposed a policy that all Delta director-level employees and above must ride in coach on trips under three hours. 

In summary 

Like so many situations in life, this comes down to mindfulness and communication. Think about other people and talk to them with respect. If you’re for it, ask to recline. If you’re against, ask if they can please put their seat back (or at least a little bit further) to give you some space. If you can’t reach an agreement… well, don’t punch someone or their seat. 

Ask the air hostesses to help you find an amicable solution. Or just be an adult and sort it out amongst yourselves. And, for the passive-aggressive diehards, you might get a laugh out of these suggestions from Life Hacker

Alternatively, if you’re on the taller end of the specimen spectrum, we’d recommend always asking at check-in for an exit row seat. The worst they can say is no.

RELATED: The Beginners Guide To Travel Hacking: Never Fly Economy Again

RELATED: 5 Top Tips For Flying On A Budget

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