Seat Recline Etiquette: Passenger Refuses to Raise Seat During Meals

Seat Recline Etiquette: Passenger Refuses to Raise Seat During MealsAdvances in technology have made flying a much more pleasant experience than ever before. But when you’re hurtling through the sky in a confined space with hundreds of other passengers, arguments are sometimes inevitable. One of the biggest travel etiquette gripes among passengers is seat reclining.

It’s an unwritten rule that, as a courtesy to the passenger behind you, you should not recline your seat during the meal service. Economy passengers have barely enough space as it is, and eating a meal with the seat in front fully reclined is almost impossible. But an AFF member encountered a very rude passenger on a recent flight that flatly refused to raise their seat into the upright position.

lydea was seated in an Economy class middle seat on a long-haul Cathay Pacific flight. When the meal service began, this member politely asked the passenger in front to raise their seat. Instead of complying, the passenger angrily “berated” lydea.

On many airlines, the cabin crew will actively ask Economy passengers to raise their seats during the meal service if there is a passenger seated directly behind. In this instance, however, the Cathay Pacific crew did not do anything.

This incident has caused some debate on AFF about whether passengers have a “right” to recline their seats during the meal service. Most members agree that it’s poor etiquette, but it seems to be more of a common courtesy than an enforceable requirement.

If the command came directly from a crew member, however, it could be a different story. Airline passengers are legally required to follow lawful crew member instructions.

Cathay Pacific has responded to lydea‘s complaint, which you can read here.

What’s your take on the issue of seat reclining etiquette? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Angry pax declines to Raise Reclined Seat During Service…


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]