Once again, the controversy has exploded about whether airline passengers should be allowed to recline their seats. As someone who’s been traveling on business for decades, I have an opinion on this subject, which some people probably won’t like.
The current brouhaha is the result of a viral video of some hammerhead repeatedly punching the seat in front of him. Apparently this entitled jerk believed he had the right to act like a testy 3-year-old, just because he was on an airplane.
Amazingly, though, some people have been defending his behavior and some have even insisted that that passengers don’t have the right to recline their seats. That’s utterly ludicrous and here’s why:
1. Airplanes are too cramped already.
I recently checked the price of a flight from Boston to Los Angeles; it was $228 round trip. In 1970, flying coast-to-coast round-trip cost around $500, which is over $3,300 in today’s dollars. One of the reasons that airfares are so low–low enough even for slop-brow man-children to afford–is that the airlines pack as many seats as possible into each plane. The cramped seats are a feature, not a bug.
2. I can’t use my computer on the tray table.
Hey, they’re called “laptops” for a reason. If you really want to use the tray table on an airplane, get something that’s going to fit, like an iPad mini and a folding keyboard.
3. Some airlines are installing non-inclinable seats.
Good for them. But if a passenger has purchased a seat that is capable of reclining, they have a right to recline it, because that’s what they paid for. What’s happening on some other airline is totally irrelevant.
4. Reclining is like eating stinky food, legal but still rude.
People do all sorts of rude things on a plane. So what? Reclining a seat is only “rude” because some thin-skinned passengers have decided to treat a perfectly normal behavior–reclining an airline seat–as if it were something rude. Look, people have been reclining their airline seats for decades; it wasn’t rude then and it isn’t rude now.
5. Reclining isn’t fair to tall people seated behind you.
Oh, boo-hoo-hoo. Tall people get all sorts of advantages in life. They make more money, they’re considered more desirable, they’re more likely to seen as leaders, and they get to see over everyone else’s heads at public events. So here’s the ONE time tall people get the short end of the stick. Stop acting like a big baby and deal with it. (Note: I’m 6′ 1″.)
6. Flying is hard enough; why make it worse?
Let’s take a reality check here. You’re seated, reasonably comfortably, in a metal tube traveling distances that within the lifetime of people alive today would have taken days, weeks or even months to traverse. And you’re complaining about a reclining seat? Seriously? Get a grip and find something real to get upset about.
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post. The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com. More from Inc.