Just as we always look before making a turn while driving, we should always look before reclining our seat on an airplane.
My laptop almost broke on a recent flight from Los Angels to Chicago. I purchased the ticket very last minute and found myself seated toward the back of economy class on a United 757-300. That’s tight seating.
After takeoff, I pulled out my laptop to begin work and all of a sudden the lady in front of me—without warning—fully reclined her seat in one rapid movement. My laptop became stuck between my tray table and lip of the seatback (where my tray table is released) . I genuinely feared it would break.
I forced the seat back up with my left hand and freed my laptop. The lady quickly turned around and I feared their might be a confutation, but she looked more startled than angry. I apologized for pushing and explained that my laptop was stuck. She nodded, also apologized, and asked if was okay to recline again. Of course…that is her prerogative.
We’ve all heard horror stories about electronic devices being broken in similar situations. I am very thankful my laptop emerged unharmed.
So here’s a piece of airplane etiquette that we should always observe: look before you recline. When you do recline, recline slowly. The lady reclined so fast I did not even have a moment to pull my laptop away. Practically, you should always anticipate the worst and position your laptop, if possible, so that it will not break in case of a sudden, full recline.
Together, we can all make the flying experience a bit more civil. Please, for the sake of the golden rule, look before you recline. The consequences of not doing so can be dire to the person behind you.