Viral video sparks debate on reclining seats on airplanes — but what are the rules?

Yahoo News Canada

A video viewed more than 600,000 times has set parts of the internet ablaze with the eternal burning question regarding airplane etiquette: Is it ever OK to recline your seat?

On Feb. 8, Twitter user Wendi Williams posted a video of a male passenger behind her repeatedly tapping her seat with his fist (is it a punch, is it a fisted tap...).

Williams says he started doing this after she reclined her seat. When she brought it up to an attendant on the American Airlines flight, Williams said she was reprimanded and the man received a complimentary drink.

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“Here’s a great jackhole!” she wrote on Twitter. “He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times — HARD.”

Williams joined Twitter seemingly to get her version of the “assault” out. She alleges the tapping was stronger before she started filming and that the man only subsided after she began to capture footage on her phone. She claims they were strong enough that it might have caused her whiplash and that she had headaches for a week. She also says she missed work for doctor’s appointments.

There have been hundreds of replies to her version of events with many siding with both parties. It appears the man was seated in the final row of the aircraft, making it impossible for him to recline his own seat. He also apparently asked Williams not to recline her seat while he was eating. The footage we can see shows the man watching something on his phone, flat on his tray.

While some said there was no reason for the man to be that aggressive, others believe Williams — and all flyers — should never recline their seats on tiny airplanes anyway.

Some were confused about why Williams would post the video to begin with, since it paints her in “such a bad light,” clearly siding with the man here.

One person on Twitter offered a different piece of advice: shell out for the emergency-exit row for extra leg room.

Others still decided to take no side — instead casting blame on both parties who behaved in a “rude and unneighbourly” way.

Yahoo Canada readers on Facebook had lots to say about proper airplane etiquette, with many chiming in on this reclining seat debate.

Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.
Yahoo readers react to seat-reclining debate on Facebook.

But just what are the rules about reclining your seat? It would seem most people agree to extend common courtesy. Flights in economy are seldom comfortable, so why make it worse for yourself, or others, if you can help it?

A rule of thumb is to communicate with the person behind you when you can; never recline your seat during meal times; and recline slowly.

So, whose side are you on? Vote in the poll above and sound off in the comments.

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