Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Inconsiderate Travellers

Almost the only thing, that causes me to totally lose my shit when traveling, is inconsiderate people.

There is a thin veneer of civility when traveling, it allows people to be crammed in to small spaces without killing eachother. Most people maintain this civil manner, but some people are just totally inconsiderate. It manifests in many ways; from screaming at staff, to jumping queues, to being totally clueless at security screening, to boarding before your row number is called. However the number one inconsiderate thing people do while flying, is to recline on top of you.

The bottom line is, in economy space is precious. I am sitting in the largest passenger plane in the world and yet there is still barely enough space to use my 13" laptop, even without someone reclining on me. If someone did recline right now, not only would it render my laptop unusable in the space, but there is also a good chance it would crack my screen.

Sure you say, but what if you aren't trying to use a laptop? Well even with the tray table up, reclining makes it next to impossible to do anything else either. Try holding and reading a book, in the 6 inches remaining between you and a seat. Try getting something out of the seat pocket, that is now compressed against your legs. Heck even try getting comfortable, when the top of someones head is in your personal space. It just shows a total lack of respect and consideration for the person behind you.

Worst of all, reclining begets more reclining. If someone reclines onto you, most people then think it is ok to recline onto the person behind them. So the reclining cascades back through the plane pissing everyone off. There are rare people who try and break the cycle, who don't want to be inconsiderate to the person behind them, but they are in the minority.

I fully appreciate that i could be considered inconsiderate, for wanting to deny the passenger in front the right to recline. But the bottom line is, while they want to do it, it affects me too. It is the same as passive smoking, a lot of people smoke without any consideration for those around them. Ok maybe reclining is less likely to give me cancer, but it is still something that makes my life miserable without my consent.

So what is to be done? From my perspective, there are a few simple options:
1. Fix the root cause: Design the seats so that reclining doesn't affect the person behind.
2. The liberal-paternal approach: Try to nudge passengers to be more considerate with; "ask before you recline" (or similar) stickers on the back of the seat in front.
3. The flexible approach: Offer everyone a 'recline lock' so that they have control over their own space.
4. The totalitarian approach: Superglue all of the recline buttons and just don't offer the option.


  1. You should just BYO superglue! If you apply it as soon as you get on then by the time the seatbelt light goes off it'd have set and the person in front will be stuck!


  2. Sorely tempting and an even better side-effect is that if they try to recline too early they would get stuck to the seat!

    Alas trying to get superglue on a plane might be slightly hard ;-)

  3. Hahaha. Hilarious post mate, very sarcastic and witty as usual! I must say that inconsiderate travellers are one of my pet peevs as well. It seems however, that I had pushed this hatred to the back of my mind and was only reminded of just how much I despised these travellers when I read your post! They can put a huge dampener on your whole travel experience.
    I LOVE the superglue idea! How funny would it be if they got stuck to the chair in the reclined position?! Everyone would walk past them and be like: "So YOU'RE the reason why I had even less space then normal and had to sit in an uncomfortable position for the whole flight?!". Hehe, Karma is such a bitch to inconsiderate travellers!! :-D