Yesterday I wrote about my Lufthansa Premium Economy experience. I’ll post a more detailed flight review next week, but want to dredge up the old seat recline debate this morning.
About 30 minutes after takeoff, just as meal service commenced, a disturbance broke out. A passenger became irritated that the man seated in the row ahead of him reclined his seat.
Generous seat recline in Lufthansa Premium Economy is a two-edged sword. While the ability to lean back aids in sleep, when the passenger in front of you also leans back you’ll find the seat uncomfortably close.
Anyway, after exchanging curses the angry passenger summoned a FA with his call button and complained. It happened to be the purser who came over and she handled the situation magnificently.
“Sir, he has a right to recline his seat, as do you.”
But she didn’t stop there.
“But let’s see if we can find a compromise, shall we?”
She asked the man who reclined his seat if he would be willing to raise it just for the meal service. The man agreed. The crisis was averted.
I loved how the purser handled this.
First, she noted that it is your right to recline your seat at any point in the flight. Had this been a nighttime flight rather than 4pm in the afternoon, I would have also skipped the meal service and just tried to sleep.
But she appealed to courtesy to diffuse the situation and leave everyone happy. She did not threaten or demand, she merely suggested. In almost all cases, people respond better to kind persuasion than blunt insistence.
I wholeheartedly reject the notion that one cannot recline during meal service. On the other hand, I always try to avoid this out of courtesy. I also choose the last row of the cabin for a reason.
Had I been the reclining passenger and been confronted or cursed out by the man behind me, I can almost guarantee I would have ignored his request. But had he asked nicely, I would have undoubtedly complied. How about you? Kudos to the Lufthansa Purser for handling the situation well. There were no threats of arrest…
You can recline at anytime, so as I can knee your seat at anytime. Who will be more uncomfortable? 🙂
Air Rage, Exhibit 1 – above
I can assure you Chris, if you tried to knee my seat at anytime, you would regret it.
Air Rage, Exhibit 2.
We just need to fly business class… 😉
Ok, I’ll bite: How would you make someone regret putting a knee in your seat?
It would involve water.
I can see a FAMS training video in the making here
haha just water wont be that regretful at all. I saw someone shaking firstly coke, then red wine over someone’s head whom reclined fully during meal time. Luckly that guy noticed what would “likely” to be happened and stood up his seatback, at least for meal time.
I believe we all know well that the one sitting at the front would be the one going to suffer most if a war start.
Glad they handled it that way! On one flight with our whole family, they didn’t start the meal service for about 2.5 hours after a late night take off. Of course, our kids were already reclined and asleep (partially reclined). The FA had us wake them up and pull their seats upright until the people behind us said they were through – 2 hours later. I have eaten many meals with a seat reclined in front of me. It is stupid to expect that people should pull it up during a late night meal service.
I 100% agree.
Reclining during meal service is a DYKWIA move.
In most circumstances, I agree. Not in the circumstance Charlie describes above.
Actually the passengers are required to bring the seat up during meal service just like during takeoff and landing. At least that’s the rule with some airlines and they actually make an announcement on that when they serve meals.
Thats true, for those so called premium airlines in east asia especially, its compulsory and really got an announcement for it during meal service.
I always leave my knees forward (at least 1 of them) so there’s no room to recline the seat in front of me. Typically someone in front of me tries to recline, sees they can’t and give up. It begs a question of whether one can be asked or compelled to move to accommodate someone that wants to recline their seat.
If airlines weren’t trying to be so greedy and jam everyone in this wouldn’t even be an issue. With the price of tickets these days passengers shouldn’t have to worry about a reclining seat as being comfortable should be included in the cost.
I began to have my doubts about you, Matthew, when you suggested that the Delta family last week should have just scanned the boarding pass of the non-traveling child in order to secure an extra seat for their non-paying infant. Wrong on so many fronts, not the least of which was that the on-board passenger count would be wrong (think-emergency/disaster accountability), I ignored the “but they paid for it!” people and held my tongue. Recline/Not Recline people tend to follow the same logic—I paid for it, I’m going to use it, courtesy be damned. I, like many people, never recline a seat if a passenger is seated behind me. Yes, we all know your arguments about it being your right, but that doesn’t make it “right”.
RE: Delta, I simply do not see an ethical problem with taking advantage of a seat you have already paid for in a strategic way.
But perhaps you missed where I wrote that I do not recline my seat during meal service and even chose the last row on my recent flight precisely because I do not like reclining on people. But it is still my choice, not my neighbor’s.
If you choose not to recline your seat at all if someone is seated behind you, I note your generosity but do not link it with any sort of superior morality because I dispute your very premise of right/wrong RE: seat recline.
Awesome read, Matthew! Thank you for pointing something positive out as way of guiding society in the right direction. Your article is just as worthy as the FA’s conduct.
On CX HKG-SFO the 1 am flight, my 17 year old reclined in PE and they guy behind him told him not to because his wife couldn’t see the TV. That’s why the TV’s tilt – I assume. He complied, but had I been sitting anywhere in the vicinity I would have stepped in. The guys’ wife also left her light on the entire flight – only person in the entire cabin! People can be such jerks.
Whether an individual pays $1 or $1500 for a seat they are paying for the comfort and functionality that it has to offer and in most cases these days it’s not too much. So in playing the adversary in the Lufthansa situation supposed he refused to not recline? He comes out looking like the bad man for something he paid probably good money for. Now we have a situation that can possibly lead to a physical altercation and a flight attendant stuck in the middle.
There was a time that you could recline on an airplane and not end up in the lap of the passenger behind you. Anyone remember those days? The airlines are responsible and need to be held accountable for their greed and horrendous policies and not leave the burden on the customer to resolve their issues. They are well aware the seats are tight and inadequate.
And do you remember how much does seats cost in those days you are bringing back?? They were far more expensive than today
Thought I would try out your blog Matthew but you are too big of a dick to stomach! Goodbye!
I’ve been called worse.
Mari, did you mean *have* instead of *are*?
You sure do like provoking your readers with the third rails of air travel, don’t you? First kids in the lounge, and now seat recline? 🙂
Honestly, I don’t know what the right answer is with regards to reclining coach seats. As a general rule, I agree with you that if a seat reclines, the person in that seat has the right to use it, especially on a long overnight flight where reduced seat pitch makes sleeping uncomfortable. On the other hand, it’s undeniable that when the person in front reclines all the way, your seat becomes borderline unusable – mostly thanks to the same continued decline in seat pitch. So I understand the frustration on both sides. You’d figure the space issue would be mitigated in PE, but I guess not based on this experience.
For the record, I usually select seats in the last row for the same reason – so I can recline with impugnity without disturbing anyone. If that’s not possible, I’ll usually recline only a small amount, and will put it back up all the way during the meal service. (I’ll echo that whether I comply with a request to not recline, or switch seats, or whatever depends on how I’m asked. Ask nicely and I’ll work with you. If you’re an a$$hat about it, though, you can go pound sand.)
So this is the intersection where a flight report meets a fight report. The FA showed diplomacy works best.
The pax who got bent out of shape about the perceived wrong didn’t exercise the tolerance social situations call for. When a person isn’t surrounded by caring individuals to point areas of improvement, behavior becomes confrontational with little provocation. What parent or spouse would feel proud of someone that chooses to create a scene as a coping mechanism?
Tall people and short people will never agree on this one. I support the approach of Spirit and Frontier. No recline .
Who should be responsible for my knee replacement surgery the next time some jackal crashes his seat back into my knees?
The problem with reclining seats is similar to the express line at the grocery. It appears that people take advantage, in both cases. This problem could be eliminated if the airlines would charge extra for rows with reclining seats, and not make them available as standard equipment in all rows. I would not only have rows with reclining seats only (as well as rows with non-reclining seats), but I would have rows which were reserved for small children only. Hence, I would not have to worry about a small child constantly kicking my seat, or screaming in close proximity to my seat, during a flight.
I still do not understand where the “no recline” argument comes from, at all. I find it frankly offensive that people feel they have the right to insist I don’t make use of my seat, although I always try and handle the situation politely (if I am awake I will put my seat up during meal service, but this certainly should not be required by the FAs). The FA clearly handled this well so kudos to her.
Anyone who makes this into a “moral” argument is tripping out entirely.
A couple of hundred people all crammed into a metal tube floating miles above the earth … it only works when those couple of hundred people understand they’re in it for the long haul, and have to work together instead of relying on the pseudo-class system based on how much money you could pay to be a sardine.
I mourn for the common courtesy and manners instilled in us as children in a bygone age. We live in the “I’m alright Jack, ████ you” era now.
Well trained Purser.
On United the pursur would just have told the pilot to land the plane and have the complaining passenger escorted out.
There is nothing you can do about it if the seats are able to recline on a plane, it’s just too bad, I am 6ft 2ins and broad shouldered but as long as the seat in front goes up during mealtimes then that’s the best I can expect.
Flying is basically about not being an arsehole, knees in my back and a cup of water over me the person concerned would be getting a smack on the jaw at arrivals (unless it’s a she… plenty of arseholes in that particular gender).
NB: I don’t recline, only because it doesn’t do my back any good.
Blob, punching me in the jaw is a crime, you know. You would really go to jail for assault because the person in front of you reclined their seat? I don’t think passengers get the right to cause bodily harm because of a seat recline. Good luck with the court case when you decide to punch your next victim.
Hi just reading your post now. The recline in LH PE is simply too much. I got stuck behind someone who fully reclined 2 hour into a 13 hour flight. Claustrofofic is the right word here. I will not fly them again to be honest.