Should you recline? Most airline passengers say yes


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – I stop Catherine Rurode, her mom and dad and her brother Monday morning as they are boarding a plane at the Savannah Hilton Head International Airport. I am wondering if they are pondering the question of whether to “recline or not recline.”

This refers to the viral video viewed by millions of an issue that took place on an American Airlines flight. A man is seen repeatedly hitting the back of the seat of the woman in front of him after she reclined the seat in front of him. That video, in turn has sparked debate nationwide about the rights of passengers.

“Supposedly, people are saying you need to ask before you recline but I wouldn’t I would just recline,” she told me.

Her mom Mary Beth Rurode said “I think it’s just a function of the seat. If it wasn’t meant to recline you wouldn’t recline.”

Her father Bill Rurode told me he doesn’t start off reclining. “I don’t typically recline until the guy in front of me reclines and then I have no space so then I go back and then I’m certain it’s a domino effect all the way to the back of the plane,” he told.

Mr. Rurode said he does not believe he or anyone should have to ask to recline.

His son Will told me he does not recline because he thinks it’s uncomfortable and in some ways because he doesn’t want someone doing it to him. But he’s not going to hit anyone’s seat over it.

“I don’t like it when the person in front of me reclines but I’m not gonna be like hey put your seat back up. Do what you want, it’s your seat,” he said.

Travel Writer Katherine Fan who has been writing about the topic says it’s a “hot button issue” with passengers.

“Flight attendants and etiquette experts consistently tell us the right to recline belongs to the passenger sitting in the seat that they want to recline,” said Fan.

While you have the right to recline she says to try to do so as politely as possible.

“Experts suggest turning around and looking the person in the eye and saying you are about to recline and just want them to know because you don’t want to knock over a laptop or spill hot coffee or something,” Fan said.

The right to recline is there but you still need to be responsible for applying the Golden rule,” she told us.

In other words, if you want to recline just keep in mind how you would like to have someone do it in front of you.

The Rurode family appears to fly somewhat frequently and they seem to be realistic about the experience these days.

“I think if you’re flying coach you just have to understand that you are in the cattle car for the duration of the flight and it will be crowded,” said Mrs. Rurode.

While there is a move on the part of some airlines to expand seats, look for these problems of crowded conditions to continue.

Mary Beth Rurode suggests people upgrade their seats and if they can’t then just endure it. “Or maybe don’t fly and just drive where you can recline,” she said.

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