What's your opinion on reclining your seat?

This has been a rather controversial topic lately with airline squeezing seats closer and closer together…

(Image by CrankyFlier)

If you’ve sat in an Economy Class seat lately, especially on American/European carriers or any airline that uses the typical 31 inches of pitch, you know how tight it can be.

I’d like to hear it from you guys:

Do you have the right to always recline your seat?

Note this is primarily for Economy Class… most classes above that aren’t really affected by recline.

There’s two articles that have opposing standpoints on this argument:

Reclining Your Seat Is A Right (With Conditions)

It’s a really good read and brings up many good points regarding why seat recline is your right and why there are times you shouldn’t recline.

Then, there’s this one:

Though this article exaggerates quite a bit, it brings up some key points.

Two Polls:

1. Do you recline your seat without acknowledging the person behind you?

  • I recline my seat without looking behind me
  • I recline my seat after acknowledging the person behind me
  • I never recline my seat

0 voters

2. Is reclining your seat a given right because you own the seat?

  • Yes
  • No

0 voters


I do recline my seat and I think it’s ok to recline your seat if you know there is someone seated behind you. Also the “fully upright” position looks kind of uncomfortable.


Depends on the length of the flight. Less then 2hrs I won’t recline at all. No need to inconvenience the person behind me like that. More than 2 hours it’s my God given right to recline!

Honestly though, it just depends how I feel, & whether or not the person behind me is using a laptop. I’ve heard stories of laptops being destroyed because of the seat in front reclined.

My last long haul from Doha to New York, I literally reclined my seat for almost 15 hours straight. I was so tired I passed out the entire flight. On our descent into New York the lady behind me complained that “I had reclined the entire d*** flight” to the flight attendant and was actually told to get upright! No hard feelings, we were signing the customs forms and only had 30 minutes until we were on the ground at Kennedy.

-2Hrs: Won’t recline at all.

2-9Hrs: Will recline, but will let seat mate behind me know I’m reclining (not during meal service).

+9hrs: It’s happening whether you like it or not. Life’s too short & this flight is too long to not get comfortable.


I wouldn’t recline on any day flight if not absolutely necessary as especially in Economy it isn’t making that big of a difference in my opinion for my comfort, while really limiting the comfort/space of the person sitting behind me.

If the seat behind me is free or it’s a longish (>2:30hours) night flight I would recline if needed for sleep, probably taking a look to the person behind me to see if they are acting/working before doing so as a kind information that you will be reclining is really nice in such a situation (had to catch a water bottle falling onto myself once because the person in front of me reclined without saying anything beforehand and the tray table was simply to small to not place the bottle very close to the back of the seat).

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The only time I have ever reclined my seat was when I personally knew the person sitting behind me, and they gave me permission to do so. Otherwise, I have never reclined my seat. Why is your comfort at a greater value than the person sitting behind you?



That fully upright position just looks wrong to me. I’m sure it’s not like that.

Holy moley.

I sometimes recline my seat just a little bit (after acknowledging the person behind me), but I’m normally fine.

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I have a rule of thumb for reclining:

It is ok to recline if you are:

Sitting in First Class
Sitting in an Extra Legroom
Sitting in front of an Exit Row

It is not acceptable to recline while sitting in economy unless you are on a flight that is longer than 5 hours.

If you are in economy, you shouldn’t recline for a shorter flight.

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“A (slightly) exaggerated depiction of Pre-Reclined vs Regular Seating”


Unless it’s a fully flat bed or no one is sitting behind me, I’m never going to recline my seat. I’ll just sleep with my hand as support.

If there’s no one in the row behind you, then viola!

There are 2 types of people who recline their seats. The rude recliner, and the kind recliner.
The rude recliner, with no regard, will just yank their seat back, likely spilling the person behind’s food on their lap. The kind recliner will do it in increments, they look around, do it a tiny bit, look around again, do it a tiny bit again. You look at them and wonder how they magically teleported their seat to the reclined position.


If you’re paying for the seat… and they give you the option to recline… you have every single right in the world to recline.


Cough Ryanair.

Sometimes, during a flight, I will like to recline just a tad, not enough to annoy the person behind me.

But i get so mad when theres “that guy” that just reclines all the way back, ughhh, gets me so annoyed


Yes, 100%. I think that you have the right to be a bit more comfortable.

I once had the person behind my push on my seat to keep me from reclining. It was very rude.

I don’t care if the person in front of me reclines. I Anglo once asked someone to sit up when I was a little kid, because I thought reclining before takeoff would make us crash🤣

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Personally I don’t except on long haul flights. That being said I don’t have a problem with anyone doing it. If you don’t like it, then don’t fly!

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I can imagine that guy trying to push your seat back, embarrassing himself around all the other passengers.

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You pay to recline your seat back. It’s your seat you’ve paid for. That’s my view of the situation. I’m not fussed about the old lady behind me, or the 40year old business man. It’s my seat, and no one else’s for the duration of the flight

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I agree with @Jomo_Kenyatta, but I don’t know how you all do it but I can’t survive a long haul without reclining my seat, I don’t mind when the person in front reclines his seat

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It’s always the Airlines responsibility for passengers comfort. The seat was designed that way so the airline should make reclining the seat less disruptive to other passengers, unless they are too busy trying to make money and put the seats closer and closer to each other, and make passengers to be responsible for it.

However, since the Airlines doesn’t really care if passengers have enough legrooms, as a courtesy to the poor guy sitting behind me, I normally don’t recline or just a little bit. For flights more than 2hrs, I’ll just fly in business. For Intl. or intercontinental flights, definitely business for my own good.

Some Airlines do came up with a solution—making the seats non-reclining. Which is both brilliant and stupid.

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