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Should reclining seats be banned on flights?

The decision whether or not to ban reclining seats on aeroplanes has been a hot topic for many years.

There seem to be two camps: one of the opinion that reclining the seat is a ‘right’ for all passengers and the other that appreciates how cramped it can be for the person behind. A psychologist from the Private Therapy Clinic, Becky Spelman, agrees: "There's the 'altruistic soul', who is considerate of others, and the 'selfish ego', who will look to increase their own comfort at the expense of others."

When a passenger reclines the seat it often results in the person behind having no personal space, an uncomfortable journey and it can also render the TV screen or lap tray useless. Many others believe that as they have paid a good price for the seat, they are entitled to recline – and technically they are, no matter how selfish it might be.

However, lately there have been new calls for a complete ban to be introduced. While travel insurance might offer some protection in the event of delays or cancelled flights, unfortunately, nothing can be done about the cramped conditions. One passenger, Richard Moran, desperately wants the seats to be outlawed and has posted his complaint in detail on social network LinkedIn. He brought several examples of the problem with reclining seats to our attention, including a fistfight, a broken laptop screen and a bribe.

Mr Moran certainly isn’t alone in his campaign for an outright ban. Just last year, flight website Skyscanner found that nine in 10 passengers would rather see the seats banned than have to put up with someone reclining in front of them. The poll of over 1,000 travellers found that the vast majority at least wanted to see restricted use on short-haul flights, or a ban altogether.

However, not all of those people are as considerate as they seem. With reclining seats still an option on flights, 70% admitted that they would recline in front of a pregnant woman and 80% would do so in front of an elderly or frail person. Those most likely to consider the comfort of the passenger in the seat behind were women aged between 18 and 24; while men over the age of 35 were the worst culprits.

Date Created: 25 February 2014

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