Why reclining your seat on a plane makes you a jerk

As if the crowding of the plane was unbearable, imagine someone in the row in front of you reclining their seat completely and invading your already tight space.

Although many frustrated travelers ignore the thoughtless gesture, the behavior needs to be addressed.

Etiquette coaches Tami Claytor, Diane Gottsman and Jodi RR Smith settle the debate about whether or not it’s appropriate to recline your seat on an airplane.

“Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it,” Claytor told HuffPost. “Reclining your seat and interfering with someone else’s comfort violates a basic principle of etiquette.”

A decency expert says people should be aware of the people around them, even if they’ve paid for reclining seats.

Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, added that travelers should be mindful of courtesy while traveling.

“We want to increase our comfort without inconveniencing others. This is a huge challenge given the shrinking seats we find on airplanes today,” Smith shared with HuffPost.

Experts advise travelers on short flights to avoid reclining seats unless they can ensure that the person behind them will not be inconvenienced. However, the rules of the prone position differ depending on the duration of the flight.

“If it’s a long flight, it’s unreasonable to expect every passenger not to do what they can to make them comfortable,” Gottsman told HuffPost. “If it’s red eye, sleep is important and lying down is acceptable, especially since everyone else is lying down at the same time.”

Some frequent flyers who are tall, have back problems, or need space for their young children also get a seat recline pass.

But if none of these apply to you and you’re just looking for an opportunity to lie down, check to see if someone is sitting behind you or if there’s a small child in the seat. In these cases, you can lean back.

A thoughtful approach, encouraged by experts, is for travelers to strike up a conversation with their neighbors before pulling out a chair. Simply asking how far back you can recline your chair without making them uncomfortable is polite and thoughtful.

“Try to negotiate a reasonable compromise, such as reclining the seat slightly or lying down only for a certain period of time,” suggested Claytor.

This article was originally published in the New York Post and has been republished with permission

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