Please recline carefully


We’ve just been on holiday in Turkey and while flying home we had another close encounter of the seat back in face kind. There do seem to be a minority of people who feel the need to fully recline their seat without warning the minute the plane has left the ground, and they invariably seem to be sat in front of me.

I was pondering the seat design during the flight and if I had a 3d printer, I’d be taking something like this with me on my next trip:

Not that I’m completely against reclining seats, but it would be nice to avoid a knee/nose bashing as the seat in-front wallops back out of the blue. A wedge might at least make a little negotiation necessary, since there doesn’t currently seem to be any etiquette for checking with the passenger behind first.

The next solution I dreamt up to solve the problem would require a tiny redesign of airline seats. All the reclining buttons would operate the chair in front, so no one would be able to recline their own seat without asking the person behind them! Ok, so there are a few flaws to this plan, for example it only works if there is someone in the seat behind, and there’s nothing to stop people reclining the seat in front for a laugh! I still like it though.

The best sensible solution I’ve come up with so far involves a bigger change to reclining mechanism. Instead of the seat moving backwards as it reclines, it should move forwards. Basically, it’s completely up to you if you want to recline, but you sacrifice some of your own leg room if you do. Anyone behind should be completely unaffected as the seat reclines. Simples. Except that it would need a new seat design, manufactures to use the new design and airlines to order a lot of new seats. So not exactly a short term fix.

While waiting for these new seats to appear in the air, here are a few other ideas:

  1. Take your own preventative measures using a wedge, a water bottle or a Knee Defender. I imagine this is a good recipe for air rage though, so possibly a tad risky.
  2. Don’t allow seats to recline at all. It would be easy for airlines to modify existing seats so that they don’t recline. Perhaps they could have reclining and non-reclining sections in the plane!
  3. Since some passengers don’t appear to have any concern for the person behind them, have more in-flight guidance/announcements on reclining seats, enforced by crew members. Not during meals, or only when cabin lights are dimmed maybe?
  4. DIY version of the above with a campaign for better seat etiquette. Judging by other posts I’ve found, this is something of a long shot unfortunately- still reading the comments on Mike’s Airplane Seat Etiquette!

I got a bit side tracked with http://www.online-sign.com/ to come up with an example sign for the last two of those. Might be fun to sick a few on some seat backs next time I fly!

Any others ideas?