Recline-gate could have been over by now.
The social media debate that was ignited when a viral video of a American Airlines passenger having her reclined seat punched over and over again had run its course. We were ready to stop debating the ethics of reclining your seat on a plane and move on to the next trivial internet argument.
Bastian went on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Friday and was asked to weigh in on the debate. Rather than take responsibility for the fact that planes are regularly getting smaller and subsequently more uncomfortable, he passed the buck and hardly even took a side.
“The proper thing to do is, if you’re going to recline into somebody, you ask if it’s okay first,” Bastian said. “I never recline, because I don’t think it’s something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me.”
I have a hard time believing Bastian is flying coach in the first place. But worse than that is the fact that Bastian is completely passing the buck.
If your airplanes are so cramped that you think it’s necessary to ask permission to recline your seat, why do your seats recline at all? The issue here isn’t etiquette or manners — it’s the plane. You know who has the power to change that? Bastian. That’s where the vitriol should be aimed, not the person in front of you who’s reclining their seat in a way it is literally designed to do so.
The airline industry continues to charge more and more while providing less and less. Check a bag? Fee. Want to pick your seat? Fee. Carry-on fees used to be reserved for budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier, but now even at United you need to upgrade past “economy” if you want to bring one. Maybe they’ll starting charging you to recline your seat!
I recline my seat on 100 percent of my flights. I paid a lot of money for that seat, and that seat is designed to offer me a precious few inches of personal space. The safety demonstration says seats have to be in an upright position during takeoff and landing, not during the whole flight. If the person behind me asked nicely for me to move up, I’d consider it, but I’d ask why they don’t just recline their seat as well.
If your seat doesn’t decline, like the putz in the viral video? Then I feel for you. But that’s why I do everything I can to avoid sitting in the final row, even paying extra money if I have to.
So we can keep getting mad at each other on Twitter, punching the metaphorical reclined seat in front of us. But our anger would be much better aimed at the industry that put us in these insanely claustrophobic seats. Don’t let Bastian, or anyone else making money off our discomfort, tell you otherwise.
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