To Recline, or Not to Recline On Flights, That is the Question

Why Airline Seating is Provoking In-Flight Fights

By Paul Riegler on 3 September 2014
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A spate of reclining-seat incidents in the air has frequent and not-so-frequent flyers debating a rather Shakespearian question, namely whether it’s appropriate to recline one’s seatback on a plane.

While some airlines boast about how far their seats recline, not all passengers seem to think that their fellow flyers have the right to use the feature. (For that matter, several low-cost carriers including Allegiant and Spirit have seats that do not provide the ability to recline, having removed the required mechanism.)

On Monday night, a Delta Air Lines flight had to divert to a nearby airport after a passenger sleeping with her head on an open tray table was hit when the passenger in front of her reclined his seat, striking her head. The passenger, Amy Fine of Boca Raton, demanded that the plane land immediately… and it did. She was then escorted off the plane by police officers although she was not arrested.

Last week, air marshals were forced to intervene on a Paris-bound American Airlines flight out of Miami when two passengers began fighting over the right to recline one’s seat.

Edmund Alexandre, returning home to Paris, became upset when the passenger in front of him continued to recline her seat despite his protestations. The issue intensified when Alexandre grabbed the arm of a crew member who was trying to resolve the situation. That flight diverted to Boston, and Alexandre was arrested there and charged with interfering with a flight crew member.

The first incident in the series, however, was on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver.

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