The 5 'rules' for reclining your seat on a plane.

We need to talk about plane seats

Specifically, the reclining kind. 

If you're a frequent flyer, you've probably noticed that plane seats feel smaller than usual and that's because they are. In the early 2000s, economy airline seats were about 86 centimetres centimetres apart. 

In 2019, these seats are typically 75 to 78 centimetres apart (if you're lucky! Some airlines have downsized their seats to 70 centimetres for short flights). 

This means that seats are reclining more often than not in a bid to feel comfortable — and look, I get it. I really do. 

Watch: 7 annoying plane habits you should probably avoid doing (if you can!). Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

But since when was common courtesy a lost art? Because there are unwritten rules for reclining your seat on a plane and it's come to my attention that most people are unaware of them.

So, if you don't mind, I'm going to share them with you. 

Here are the five unspoken commandments for reclining your seat on a plane — and I do command you to follow them. 

Rule #1: Always sit up when you're eating a meal. 

News flash buddy, the person behind you needs to chow down too. How can they do that if you're lying back so far they can barely reach their tray table? 

Unfortunately, we're not in first class so we do have to be a little considerate of the fact that there's not enough room to eat, sleep, watch TV and repeat with our seats reclined. It's also the rules.

It's sad, I know. But you'll survive for 20 minutes at least.

Rule #2: Wait until the cabin crew lights go down.

Now, look. I understand it's a bit much to expect people to keep their seats up for an entire flight. An unfair expectation, too. 


So if you're unsure, it's a good general rule of thumb to wait until the cabin crew lights are dimmed because that means it's resting time. 

You don't have to listen to me but please do listen to the poor bloke behind you who is sighing behind you every time you toss and turn.

Rule #3: Don't recline straight away.

This is a general rule I thought everyone followed — to wait until the lights go down or until at least an hour into flying. But then l started flying more regularly and I realised... "these b*stards had their seats reclined the second they sat down."

Please... practice patience. Wait a minute, or 30, at least! Your back will be fine, I promise.

Rule #4: Short haul flights... just please... don't.

As a bigger person flying, I rarely recline my seat anyway but if it's a short-haul flight? Then I'm absolutely not going to lie down.

If you think about how small a space is in general when you're getting onto a short flight, it feels a little... rude... to put your seat down, especially when the flight is only 90 minutes. 

And if you MUST, then the best option is not to do it the whole flight. Sure, we all paid for a seat that functions this way but is it really that much more comfortable to be lying in someone else's lap? 

I rest my case. 

Rule #5: Remember: Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

I'm speaking generally here, but it's important to remember that other people exist too. The world does not revolve around I, me or moi. Of course, it is your right to recline your airline seat. After all, you're the one paying for it. 

But in a world that seems to be lacking compassion, shouldn't we at least try to be mindful where we can? 

And look, you don't have to listen to me but it might be worth at least heeding my words the next time you get on a plane. Because if you don't have to and you don't need to, then maybe you just... shouldn't.

Feature Image: Canva.

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