A viral video of a woman defending her decision to recline her seat against a fellow passengers has sparked a debate online
A viral video has reignited a longstanding debate over airplane etiquette: Is reclining one’s seat rude to the passenger sitting behind them?
A video posted by TikTok user GrahamNancarrow and later shared on X (formerly Twitter) by Ian Miles Cheong shows an irate woman on a flight arguing with her neighbor in the row after hers.
"I'm allowed to put my seat back," she repeatedly states, after complaining that the other passenger pushed against her seat for “the whole trip.”
"She’s allowed to put her seat back. You don’t get to kick it repeatedly just because you want more space,” Cheong wrote on X, prompting a heated exchange on the social media platform.
Some agreed that the woman was correct for defending her right to recline.
“They add the recline seat button for a reason,” wrote an X user who goes by Blind Luck Project. “It actually cost the airline extra money to provide this feature, it's meant to be used.”
However, others cited an unwritten rule against reclining when seated in coach.
“Putting your seat back in coach is an unspoken thing most people don’t do,” wrote user Matthew Lauseng. “It’s really the airline's fault because they’ve made coach so cramped and tight that putting the seat back shouldn’t even be an option.”
Some argued that other factors dictate reclining etiquette, such as the duration of the flight (reclining would be justified on longer trips). Someone else suggested that airlines could even consider designating special areas of the plane for people who plan to put their seat back.
What Does a Travel Etiquette Expert Say?
When PEOPLE spoke with travel expert, writer and advisor Nicole Campoy Jackson of Fora Travel in September, Jackson weighed in on the divisive topic.
"I'm not in the no-reclining school of thought, but I think we can recline with courtesy and understanding that we're all in tight quarters," she said.
Jackson suggested taking a glance at the person behind you before making any moves after takeoff.
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'If their laptop is out or they have a drink on the table, now is not a great time to recline and it certainly wouldn't be okay to do so without giving them a head's up,” she said.
And there is one time you should never recline.
Jackson added, “During mealtimes, definitely bring your seat back up if you have reclined it."
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