Almost no passenger flight goes without conflicts, and one of the major sources of disputes is the reclining seats on airplanes. However, it’s entirely possible that this won’t be a problem for passengers soon. According to The Sun, many airlines are gradually reducing the number of reclining seats in airplanes or even completely doing away with them.
For instance, budget airlines have long been eliminating the option for passengers to recline their seats. Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair did so as early as 2004. Since these airlines often operate short-distance flights during the day, this hasn’t posed a problem for most travelers. However, other airlines, even those offering longer flights, have also started discreetly removing this feature—either entirely or partially.
For example, Jet2 airline implemented technology in 2009 that allows only partial reclining of seat backs to avoid inconveniencing passengers seated behind. This technology is also utilized on British Airways flights lasting less than four hours, as well as by Delta, United, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Finnair.
Beyond the desire to avoid in-flight scandals, there are several reasons for such decisions. Medical experts believe that sleeping “slightly reclined” is better for spinal health. Additionally, reclining seats require more complex mechanisms, adding to both production and repair costs in case of malfunctions. Meanwhile, passengers are urged to adhere to etiquette rules on planes. It’s advised not to recline the seat during takeoff or landing, as well as during meal service. Before reclining, it’s also advisable to inform the passenger behind, inquiring whether it will be a bother—there have been numerous instances where sudden reclining led to broken noses, damaged laptops, and altercations between passengers.