The Best Way To Go About Reclining Your Seat On An Aeroplane

The Best Way To Go About Reclining Your Seat On An Aeroplane
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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]


  • Used to fly a lot for work, nothing would piss me off more then some uptight wanker reclining his seat from the very moment the plane took off keeping it there until we land (especially on a short 1 hour flight) This seemed to happen a lot more @ the front of the plane with gold / platinum members with Virgin.

    Never really happened at the back…go figure

  • Please don’t recline until service is completed and tables are put away. Not your table either, but rather the table of the person behind you. Putting your table up and then reaching for the recline button can make for interesting times behind you.

  • Is the flight longer than 4 hours?
    Is it dark outside?
    Is the person behind you less than 6 feet tall?

    Only recline if the answer to all of these is yes.

  • I always check behind me and let the person know i am going to recline and do so slowly. If a person says no however just because they are an insufferable arsehole. Ill recline anyway. If they dont like people reclining infront of them, dont fly economy.

  • Seriously? Next we’ll be getting all worried that we can’t use our trays in case the person next to us doesn’t like that. Seats are designed to recline and I have never, ever had anyone ask me first. If you don’t like it, pay for the extra space in first/business class.

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