Kneecapping me

I’m 6’4″ and I hate people who slam their seats back in front of me on flights. I spend flights with my knees jammed up against the seat in front so, if they try to jam it back, they will the damned seat is broken, which is better than breaking my knees and my laptop and inducing worsened claustrophobia. The Wall Street Journal now covers this important national divide: the recliners vs. the straights.

  • Tall Too

    Amen, brother!

  • I am 6’3″ and wonder why people think this is ok to do this. Nothing is worse when you want to get work done on your laptop and some slob reclines allllll the way back.

    Kills me!

  • perry

    I am 6′3″ and wonder why people think this is ok to do this.

    Maybe because the person in front of them is reclining as well so it’s the only way for them to get a little fresh air to breathe.

  • Andrew

    If you don’t like recliners, pay more and guarantee a better seat. I don’t like it, so I pay more seats with more space, I consult and find those that have better leg room (or even seats that are behind those rows that don’t recline) or I get to the airport early and check in on a bulkhead.

    I don’t whine about it though…

  • Jeff,

    Are you saying you don’t like it when they recline the seat back abruptly or if they recline it at all?

  • Why all the venom over such a small deal?
    You “hate” people who “slam” their seat back? I’ve never had a person “slam” their seat back. The recline quickly, and if I don’t see it coming, I just say “ouch” loudly and then deal
    with it.
    BTW: when I put my seat back, it’s very slowly.

  • p

    I am a recliner and then i sleep the whole flight, always on a window seat.

    If anyone ever decided to start kicking or bumping the seat to make me put it up, I would put it up then started bouncing back and forth, moving all around, so they may be able to put the laptop or drink on the tray, but it may end up on there lap or on the floor making them wish for it to be just reclined instead.

    Revenge is a two way street.

  • The unwritten rule is that a person is entitled to put his seat back as far as it will go, and the person behind is required to deal with it. They only go back several inches anyway.

  • All due respect, Jeff – I think your blame is misplaced. The fault lies with the airlines, not their customers. I certainly lean back every millimeter the airline will allow. And not all seats glide back smoothly – some will only go back with a good deal of force.

    The airlines really pit us against each other, don’t they?

  • ScoopsGuy


    I feel your pain. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve saved my laptop from certain death from a rapid seat recliner in front of me. I’m 6’1″ and have long arms, so even if there’s any legroom, I usually have my elbows in the guy next to me’s ribs trying to work.

    Here’s the must-have Christmas gift for the tall flyer: Knee Defender:

    Boing Boing blogged it 2.5 years ago

  • I love how some people are “pro-choice” with killing fetuses but “anti-choice” when it comes to reclining seats on a plane.

    Tall people have so many advantages in life they should suck this one up.

    I liken them to rich white male Christians.

  • Lark Williams

    The polite thing to do is to ask the person behind if reclining is okay. But only people with some civility might think that’s appropriate. Scary how several commenters here simple think “oh well screw you behind me…I don’t give a #[email protected]#”

  • Using my laptop in a 45 degree closed position can be a bit difficult. Using it on my knee is not comfortable. People who recline early in the flight and fail to adjust at dining times just give me the beebees……what ever beebees are….but you know what I mean.

  • I agree that this is just one of the things that sucks about airlines, but I’m not sure that anything can be done about it. Unless everyone decides to put their seats back or everyone leaves them up, someone is going to get the short end of the stick. While I can’t say I’ve ever gone so far as to ask if I can put my seat back, I certainly take into consideration how much leg room the person behind me needs and has.

  • j

    I’m 6’6″ and I get it a little worse.

  • Stephen

    On international and other long flights, reclining is the rule, and many people sleep, even through meals. The lights are often turned off by the flight staff.

    If there is a dispute about the seat, you should consult the flight attendant, rather than engage in bump wars. But in general, the tall and the obese need to pay for business or first class or buy two seats if their bodies don’t fit, and there is no guarantee that you will be able to use a computer in economy class.

  • Tom

    I’m 6’4″ and fly regularly both domestic and international… this is definitely the fault of the airlines for reducing seat pitch while failing to invest in new seats that have thinner backs (they exist) or seats that slide forward as you recline.

    Despite what some people tell you, there’s no “right” to recline your seat. If someone my height is behind you in a 30-32″ pitch seat, you’re not going to get to recline more than an inch or two because the geometry simply doesn’t work out — there’s no place to go for us, short of putting our legs in the aisle (which is dangerous.) More and more American guys are over 6’0″, but the auto and airline industry still seem to work on the 1950’s era concept that the average guy is 5’7″. Average height is now 5’10”, and about 25% of men 20-40 yrs old are over 6’0″. If you’re in a typical coach seat, there’s about a 10% chance that reclining all the way is going to put the person behind you in a very uncomfortable spot… arguably, the right to not have your knees crushed is somewhat greater than the right to tilt back an extra inch.

  • Chris

    If the property rights of the space behind an unreclined seat belong to the person behind the seat, why does the control to move the seat back belong to the person in front?

  • Tom

    The fact you’re driving the car doesn’t necessarily give you the right to park it in someone else’s driveway. Control does not necessarily confer rights or ownership, just responsibility.

  • I do that too, and I’m only 6 feet.

    And I don’t recline my seat, and think the functionality should be disabled.

  • Fwwank

    Hey Tom,

    It’s my seat and I’m gonna recline it if I feel like reclining. It is my right, that’s why the lever is there.

    Your car analogy doesn’t work.

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  • Freedom Flyer

    So, basically the rest of us are supposed to sit upright in order to accommodate those behind us even if it means we endure discomfort during the flight. Anyone who is prevented from reclining back AS FAR as the seat allows, should COMPLAIN to the flight attendant who will then inform the passenger behind that everyone is entitled to recline except during meal service. If you NEED more room–you SHOULD reserve early to get an Exit row, or pay the extra money for more leg room. You tall people are not ENTITLED to have it your own way, and if you were THAT privileged, you would be flying First Class anyway.

  • I do that too, and I’m only 6 feet

  • This is a real issue and I don’t think people realize when they hit recliner mode in their seats on the plane that they are making taller folks behind them uncomfortable. I little recline is ok but throwing it back low is not great for anyone.

  • RR

    I don’t leave my grocery cart in the parking lot.
    I don’t dodge and weave in traffic just to make up two car lengths.
    I don’t stick my foot out of the car door window on road trips.
    I don’t talk on the cell phone when out at dinner or leave it turned on.
    I don’t take noisy kids into restaurants.
    I don’t recline my seat on airplanes.
    I do these things out of respect for others, it doesn’t cost me anything.

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