Travel News

The Real Winner In The Reclining Seat Dispute

I have not mentioned anything at all about the whole seat reclining … well, I don’t even know what to call it! But, all of a sudden, a lot of people have some very strong feelings on both sides about seat recline on airplanes. And the winner of the dispute? Not who you might think!

The Real Winner of the Reclining Seat Dispute

For those who have completely missed out on the news of this, basically what happened was a fight broke out because two passengers inability to come to agreement about the recline of a seat (with some physical contact ensuing as well). One of the passengers was using a little set called “Knee Defenders” that locks onto a seat back table and prevents the person in front from reclining. Since that argument and resulting flight diversion, other flights have had similar arguments and diversions on board.

seat recline

Knee Defenders

The obvious party that is doing exceptionally well is the maker of the Knee Defender, even though it is actually banned by all US airlines. Sales for those little devices have gone through the roof. But, that is not the real winner of the great reclining seat debate.

Instead, the eventual real winner could be the airlines themselves. 🙂 Now, people are all debating whether or not seats should recline, what the proper rules regarding recline are, what the niceties are when it comes to reclining, etc. It also has seen countless poll questions and surveys go out questioning whether airline seats should recline. Trust me, the airlines are listening and watching eagerly to see how the bulk of the public comes down on this. If they have their way, we could see them suggest something like this as the wave of the future of airplane seats – no recline and no argument! 🙂 When I wrote about this a couple of months ago, it seemed far-fetched but you know some people (at airlines, not passengers) are thinking this could be a good idea! 🙂

seat recline

Airlines can say “Doesn’t look that bad now, does it?” 🙂

Or maybe we could compromise and go with something that Monarch Airlines did (as they have seats that do not recline at all).

seat recline

Monarch Airlines and their no-recline seat

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • Spirit Airlines seats do not recline either! I like CX’s old economy shell seats where you’d never see the person in front of you recline into your space. It’s funny how their new economy seats does the opposite but hey it’s a different market.

    This whole knee defender argument reminded me of Queen Latifah in the movie Last Holiday:
    Perhaps after that plane experience Queen Latifah should be amember of milepoint/flyertalk! 😉

    As for the recline debate, I feel it should be an FAA regulation that if the seat pitch is less than 30″, the seats should not be able to recline.

  • This debate, as with so many, is ridiculous. The public are questioned on something and imagine the typical 1-2 hour flight which they do. What about overnight 12 hour flights? How many of those same surveys would give the same answer? Clearly it’s a question of etiquette as the airline has to provide for all contingencies.

    As a separate observation, UA has installed semi-shell seats in Economy on their 777s, in that the back goes back about half the normal distance, but the seat cushion moves forward, giving the impression of as much recline. It works well and would be great if only they had put some cushioning in the cushion!

  • Reclining made sense back in the day but not now. People know upfront – you want to pay the lowest price, you get a seat but nothing more. Reclining a seat these days is no real comfort. People can just bring in their own cushion. It’s NOT like reclining brings you that much comfort. If you want comfort – them pay more to a better seat – recline in biz class or 1st …