Clearly, there are enough things in this world that are dividing people and, yes, some of it is for good reason.
Seat reclining on airplanes, however, doesn't need to be one of them. Take this situation earlier this week which went viral after a woman posted a video of a man punching her seat after she reclined it back. The woman in question claimed that the American Airlines attendant did nothing to help, and in fact offered the man a complimentary drink after the fact.
Naturally, there's a lot more nuance to this seat reclining situation than just that. The woman claims that the man punched her seat 9 times in an attempt to get her to straighten up, while the man himself hasn't come forward and so far remains an unknown quantity in the situation.
Here's the video the woman posted to Twitter.
@BravoAndy Here’s a great jackhole! He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times - HARD, at which point I began videoing him, and he resigned to this behavior. The other jackhole is the @AmericanAir flight attendant who reprimanded me and offered him rum! pic.twitter.com/dHeUysrKTu
— wendi (@steelersfanOG) February 9, 2020
Whatever about this particular situation, let's try to get some perspective on seat reclining in general. Yes, flying, in general, is an utter pain in the hole and nobody enjoys it. It's something you tolerate to get to somewhere nice so anything that mitigates that awfulness, you take it with both hands. Free drink, free movies, whatever.
However, when it comes to reclining your seat back, there has to be an agreed-upon set of rules. Not that we claim ourselves to be flying experts or anything, but we do travel quite a lot for interview junkets - so we have some experience in this field.
Here's our ruling, then.
If the flight is under four hours, you shouldn't have to recline your seat unless you have some kind of medical condition that affects your back. In that instance, if you do need to recline, you tell the person behind you that you have a medical condition, tell them before you're going to recline, and maybe buy them a drink if you feel compelled to do so.
If you're a healthy human being and you're on a two-hour, local flight to London or Paris from Dublin and you recline back right away without a word of warning, you're in the wrong. Sorry, but anyone can agree on that.
Now, if it's a flight over four hours, everyone should be reclining. If it's a transatlantic flight and it's going to be a long one, go right ahead and recline as no doubt the person in front of you is going to do the same.
That's only fair.