Another day, another fight about reclining seats on a U.S. airline flight.
In the third serious airline legroom incident in two weeks, an angry passenger caused yet another flight to divert Monday night.
Delta Air Lines Flight 2370 from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to West Palm Beach, Florida, was rerouted to Jacksonville, Florida. A passenger became irate about the traveler in front of her trying to recline her seat, a fellow passenger told CNN affiliate WPTV.
“This woman who was sitting next to me knitting actually just tried reclining her seat back,” passenger Aaron Klipin said. “The woman behind her started screaming and swearing and then a flight attendant came over and that just exacerbated what was going on and then she demanded that the flight land.”
This follows two other incidents, including one where a passenger placed a “knee defender” on a chair, refused to remove it when asked by the airline and another passenger threw water in his face.
Look, I understand that people reclining their seats in front of you is annoying. I’ve almost had a laptop crushed on one flight. Once, on a 16-hour flight from Australia, the woman in front of me kept flinging herself against the seat, trying to recline it back even further (this was also the flight where the couple next to me kept going to the bathroom. Together. They were reading a book on tantric sex. I don’t even want to know what was going on there.) Flights are growing ever more crowded and the seats ever smaller. On a recent US Air flight to London, my legs were pressed up against the seat so tightly, I could have given the guy in front of me a prostate exam with my knee. And I’m only 5’10”.
But as much as I hate cramped seats and people reclining into the empty space that used to be my gallbladder, I have to agree with all 6’2″ of Megan McArdle:
The airline owns the plane, not you. You are renting a seat from them. They have chosen to rent seats that recline. If you can’t handle someone in front of you reclining, you have a few choices: You can politely ask them not to recline, you can purchase a more expensive seat that offers more legroom, or you can find another mode of transportation. What you are not entitled to do is modify the seat to prevent it from reclining, no matter how unfair you feel life is to us tall folks. The person in front of you purchased that seat with the expectation that it would be able to recline. If your legs are actually preventing movement of the seat (which happened to me on one particularly tight flight), that’s tough luck on them. But you should not go beyond what nature has given you in the way of reclining prevention.
(She goes on to note that the water throw was also an ass and the airline over-reacted by diverting the flight and inconveniencing hundreds of people. I agree on both counts.)
Josh Barro has another suggestion: if you don’t want someone reclining into you, offer them money. I’m not sure that would work, but at least Barro’s idea provoked a hilarious incoherent response from Gawker.
Look, I know our society teaches us that we are all special snowflakes and the world must revolve around our every whim. But this is getting ridiculous. If you don’t like reclining seats, don’t fly. Or fly first class. Or boycott airlines until they remove reclining seats. But for God’s sake, don’t start fights at 38,000 feet because you suddenly don’t like the discomfort that comes with a cheap flight to Buffalo.