airlinetravelMany things have contributed to the lost level of airline travel luxury—no one “dresses” for travel any more, service is no longer top tier, gate attendants have gone rogue. And, of course, the rude recliner.

I am of average height, so having the person in front of me recline into my lap is not the irritating, even painful, event it is for my six-foot, four-inch husband. Still, I spend enough time on airplanes that I often need to spend those hours working on my laptop. When that happens, I generally spring for the few extra bucks it costs for an exit row or an extra-leg-room seat.

Even that isn’t always enough. I understand that tall people like my husband need the extra few inches they get from reclining their seats. But it was the tiny 20-something in the seat in front of mine on a recent flight that led me to decide that it’s Time to Stop the Recline.

The Rude Recliner

I had just opened my laptop and starting to write when she reclined her seat all the way back…. then leaned forward to prop her head on her arms crossed atop her seat tray table. That’s right. She wasn’t even using the few extra inches she had stolen from me.


I continued to write in a less-than-ergonomic pose…until she decided to lean back—all the way back so she could put her bare feet on the arms of the seat in front of her, which gave her the leverage to push her seat even farther into my lap.

By that point, my laptop was open to about 45 degrees and my blood pressure was soaring.

Anti-Recline Facebook Frenzy

airplaneAs a modern woman who had already paid for the airplane wifi, I turned to technology to vent my frustration. 

A post on Facebook proved that I am not the only one who gets irritated by rude recliners—and that it’s just another reason flying has become just another mode of public transportation.

Kick her seat afew times or turn up the lap top oh hell do both !!” said one.

“The inadvertent/on-purpose seat kick always works for me…” said another.

“This is kinda mean, but you could turn your fan on high and point it toward her. If she complains, tell her you’re so crowded you need the air or you might vomit.”

“ Ugh!!! Maybe next time eat lots of onions and garlic, lean forward and make sure you exhale a few seconds longer than usual.” This bit of advice came from a woman who makes her living helping others learn to relax.

And so it went. There were a handful who offered sympathy to me and one or two others who wanted to start a conversation aimed at determining a civil solution to this problem.

And, finally, there was my friend who summed it all up this way: “Planes don’t seem to bring out the best in folks–or maybe it’s just we’re forced to be in such close proximity to people we’re reminded that, as a species, we’re lacking.”

Bottom of FormCindy Richards is the frequent flyer mom of two terrific teens and the editor of