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The Do’s and Don’ts of Reclining Your Airplane Seats

With the recent media coverage of in-flight incidents stemming from the use of Knee Defender devices, flight attendant Heather Poole offered some suggestions on ABC News for reclining your seat:

Go Slow

If you’re going to recline your seat, do so slowly, yanking the seat back too quickly could make a mess if the person behind you has their tray table down.

Do Glance Back

Consider glancing back before you adjust your seat. It’s not necessary to ask permission to recline, although some people do. It is a nice gesture to at least alert the person behind you that you’re going to lean back.

Don’t Freak Out

“An older woman threatened to punch a young girl in the face if she pushed her chair back one more time,” Poole said.

Don’t Nag the Flight Attendant

“People ask us, can you tell this person to put their seat up?” Poole said. “It puts me in an awkward position because they don’t have to put their seat up. And if I tell one person, then it’s like a domino effect.”

Do Say “Hello”

You are less likely to complain about someone who smiled and said hello to you when you got on the plane. “It used to be that you would get on an airplane and say hello to the person sitting next to you, so you have a little bit of a relationship going on,” Poole said. “That makes it easier if someone gets upset with a kid kicking or someone reclining their seat.”

Do Put Your Seat Up When Told To

There’s a reason flight attendants ask passengers to put their seat up before landing, Poole said. It locks the seats in place so that if there’s an emergency evacuation, the person behind you can get out quickly.

Most airlines have reduced space between rows to make room for additional seat capacity. Passengers are likely to experience cramped seating unless they purchase the stretch seating when booking flights. It’s also important to note, most major carriers have banned the use of the Knee Defender device.

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