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Delta Air Lines Passengers Brawl Over Seat Recliner

“The whole trip she pushed my seat!” yelled one woman.

Airlines should consider giving out seat recliner etiquette guides along with their complimentary bags of peanuts. In the latest seat reclining drama, passengers aboard a Delta Air Lines flight got into a brawl when one woman accused another of pushing her seat for the entirety of their flight. Another traveler a few rows behind the fight caught the heated argument on video, with Delta passengers shouting and accusing each other of rudeness and bad behavior.

"The whole trip she pushed my seat!" the annoyed woman yelled to what appears to be a couple behind her. 

"I'm allowed to put my seat back!" she repeated three times.

The accused passengers can be heard denying the aggressive actions, as other passengers appear to be exiting the plane. 

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The video was taken by TikTok user @carlosranchero (then posted as @grahamnancarrow), but now appears to have been removed from his account. It only captured a few moments of the argument. Instagram profile took a screen recording of the video and reposted it, with a caption that reads, "filmed and caught a heated confrontation between Karens in the wild on an airplane."

"She ain't wrong," wrote IG user ivanaknez_ in the comments of the post. "Good on her for standing up for herself."

"I honestly think the seats should no longer recline in economy," argued IG user kellykel100. "They are too close and we are too big."

The decision "to recline or not recline" your airplane seat continues to be one of the biggest airline travel debates. Seats are designed to recline in an effort to ensure passenger comfort onboard, but one of the biggest inflight complaints concerns how recline can interfere with already limited legroom for those seated behind. 

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Since 2011, the average seat pitch (the distance between the back of one seat and the back of the next) has dropped from 35 inches to 31 inches, according to the Los Angeles Times, and some airlines, including budget-carrier Spirit Airlines, have reduced the pitch on many seats to 28 inches.

While engineers continue to provide recline mechanisms in their seat designs, the shrinking space has passengers so concerned about their personal comfort that it's caused big enough conflicts to divert flights for safety reasons, according to CNN.

In 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration received more than 26,000 comments in response to a public docket entitled "Minimum Seat Dimensions Necessary for Safety of Air Passengers (Emergency Evacuation)." Many of these were complaints concerning how seat recline impacts the traveler's journey, including health risks like knee injuries and poor circulation due to restricted space. 

So what should you do about reclining your seat? Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, offered his own advice during an episode of CNBC's "Squawk Box." 

"I never recline because I don't think it's something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me," he explained. "The proper thing to do is, if you're going to recline into somebody, you ask if it's OK first."

Katka Lapelosova
Kat is a born and raised New Yorker exploring the world as she writes, eats, and everything in between. Read more
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