Aeroplane seats are designed to recline for your comfort, but doing so can make the flight uncomfortable for the people behind you. If you want to lean back, here's how to do it without being rude.
Photo by chinaoffseason.
According to etiquette expert Daniel Post Senning, you should always avoid reclining during meal service. The same goes for very short flights where everyone has their laptops out and it's obvious they're trying to work. However, when it's late at night and other people have started to recline, go for it. Just make sure you do what former flight attendant Beth Blair recommends at BBC Autos:
...the most successful "seat reclining" I've witnessed has been when the passenger wishing to recline turns around and addresses his or her planned move with the passenger sitting behind them and simply asking, "May I recline my seat?" A "yes" is usually given with a smile, and the reply is very rarely "no" -- sometimes a "not yet". I've heard passengers say, "I'm working on my computer and really need the space. Do you mind waiting about 15 minutes until I'm done?
No matter what, pushing the button and slamming your seat back is always going to come off as a little rude, even if you're just trying to claim your space. And if you're going to lean back without asking, at least do them the courtesy of only reclining about half way.
Is it rude to recline your seat? [BBC Autos]