Airline Passenger Who Allegedly Got Away with Reclining Seat During Takeoff Ignites Etiquette Debate

A fellow flyer claims the passenger was told to put his seat upright by a flight attendant, then reclined again the moment she walked away

<p>Getty</p> Airline passenger reclining their seat back onto the person behind them


Airline passenger reclining their seat back onto the person behind them
  • An airline passenger claims that the person sitting in front of them on a recent flight had their seat reclined during takeoff, which is against airline rules

  • The passenger was allegedly told by a flight attendant that his seat needs to be upright for takeoff, but he reclined again immediately when she walked away

  • The incident has sparked a larger debate about whether or not it's okay to recline at all during a flight

To recline or not to recline? The travel debate lives on thanks to a recent incident documented on Reddit.

An airline passenger, who goes by the username Royal-Classic438, had Reddit users buzzing when they shared a recent flight experience to the popular United Airlines subreddit on April 8.

In their post, the original poster (OP) claims that the person in front of them reclined their seat just before takeoff, which is against airline safety protocol. The flight attendant “told him to put his seat up,” they wrote in the caption. But, “he immediately reclined as she walked away.”

The user also included an image of the seemingly reclined seat in the post, which was titled “Reclining during takeoff definitely makes you the AH [a–hole]," a nod to the famous subreddit "Am I the A--hole?"

Related: Is It Rude to Recline Your Seat on a Plane? A Travel Expert Answers

While the OP didn’t confirm where the plane was departing from, they did specify that it was a 40-minute flight in the comments.

They added that after the flight attendant informed everyone that their seats needed to be in an upright position, their neighbor “looked around to make sure she left the area first” and proceeded to recline. 

Related: Larry David Addresses Whether or Not It's Okay to Recline Your Seat on a Plane — and His Answer Sparks Debate 

In response to a comment that said simply, “it’s okay to recline,” the OP replied, "We were in active taxiing and readying for take off. The [flight attendant] already told him to bring his seat up and he did, briefly, then immediately reclined again when she left the immediate area. EVERYONE knows you’re not supposed to recline during takeoff and landing.”

In a statement to PEOPLE, United Airlines said that under Federal Aviation Administration policy, it is required that “all seats are upright for takeoff and landing.”

Seats are required to be upright and tray tables stowed at these times as a safety protocol, because they could inhibit passengers trying to quickly exit the plane in an emergency.

Takeoff and landing are the most dangerous phases of a flight, according to a study conducted by jet manufacturer Airbus and cited by Travel + Leisure. About 75 percent of worldwide accidents involving their aircrafts in the last 20 years occurred during takeoff, approach and landing. A similar study by Boeing found the same.

Related: Should You Ditch Your Companion at TSA if You Have PreCheck and They Don't? A Travel Expert Answers

<p>BraunS/Getty</p> Flight attendant checking on passengers' seats.


Flight attendant checking on passengers' seats.

Other users in the comments tried to find an explanation for the passenger’s alleged behavior, pointing out that, “The seat could be broken and they don’t realize it.”

Others started sharing their opinions when it comes to reclining at any point during the flight.

“My seat is reclining as soon as rotation is complete and the wheels stored. If you don't like that, fly private,” one wrote.

Another added, “I don't care if the person in front of me reclines. Doesn't take that much space away plus I always recline so it'd be hypocritical to judge the person in front of me.”

One argued that “reclining at all” is rude and shouldn’t be allowed.

That's a sentiment shared by comedian Larry David, who recently gave his two cents on the subject on an episode of The Rich Eisen Show. "You do not go back into a person’s lap. You don’t do that,"the Curb Your Enthusiasm star said. "It’s so inconsiderate. One notch. I’ll give you one notch. One notch, that’s it."

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In September, PEOPLE spoke to travel expert Nicole Campoy Jackson all about airplane etiquette, including when it’s acceptable to recline your seat.

“I'm not in the no-reclining school of thought, but I think we can recline with courtesy and understanding that we're all in tight quarters,” Jackson told PEOPLE at the time.

“After you've taken off, take a glance at the person behind you before you recline. If their laptop is out or they have a drink on the table, now is not a great time to recline and it certainly wouldn't be okay to do so without giving them a head's up. During mealtimes, definitely bring your seat back up if you have reclined it.”

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