Why reclining your seat on a plane makes you a jerk

As if being crammed into a plane couldn’t be more unbearable, imagine someone in the row in front of you reclining their seat all the way down and intruding on your already tight space.

While many frustrated travelers ignore the inconsiderate gesture, the behavior must be addressed.

Etiquette coaches Tami Claytor, Diane Gottsman and Jodi RR Smith have settled a debate over whether or not you should recline your seat on a plane.

“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 the fundamental principle of etiquette.”

The decency expert says people should be mindful of those around them even if they pay for reclining seats.

Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, added that passengers should practice conscious education while traveling.

“We want to be able to maximize our comfort without disturbing anyone else. This is a real challenge given the increasingly smaller seats found on airplanes today,” Smith shared with HuffPost.

Experts advise passengers on short flights to avoid reclined seats unless they can guarantee that this will not cause discomfort to the person behind them. However, reclining rules vary depending on the length of the flight.

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

Some frequent passengers who are tall, have back problems or need space to hold their small children also get a pass to recline their seat.

But if none of these apply to you and you’re just looking for a chance to relax, check to see if there’s no one sitting behind you or if there’s a small child occupying the seat. In such cases, you can relax.

One thoughtful approach encouraged by experts is for travelers to strike up a conversation with their seat neighbors before extending their seat. Simply asking how far back you can recline the chair without making it uncomfortable is polite and thoughtful.

“Try to negotiate a reasonable compromise, such as reclining the seat slightly or reclining it only for a specified amount of time,” Claytor suggested.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission

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