Sandra Tiltman enjoying Emirates Business Class (no seat rage here)

Sandra Tiltman enjoying Emirates Business Class (no seat rage here)

The results of a recent survey by Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site, have revealed that nine out of ten air travellers want to say goodbye to reclinable seats on flights.  And I thought it was just me who hated having the person in front of me recline their seat, so I virtually had their head in my lap.

Skyscanner recently polled over 1000 travellers, as well as over 900 international cabin crew and the results show that I am not alone in my dislike of those who recline, with 91% of travellers saying that seat reclining should be banned, or at least allowed only during set times on short haul flights. The survey also found that 43% felt even long haul flights should implement set times for when passengers are permitted to recline their seat.

60% of cabin crew from around the world reported either being involved in, or having witnessed, heated arguments between passengers on the very touchy subject of reclined seats.

Psychologist Dr Becky Spelman (UK) offers some explanation as to why reclining seats increasingly fuel passenger air rage. “It’s partly because there are two general personality types while travelling” said Dr Spelman. 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.

What the survey found is an alarming amount of “Selfish Egos” amongst the crowd, with 70% of people admitting they would still recline when sitting in front of a pregnant woman and 80% saying they would not care if the person behind was elderly or frail. Women aged from 18-24 were the most likely to display “Altruistic Soul” tendencies, while men over the age of 35 were more likely to exhibit “Selfish Ego” characteristics.

Almost a third of those surveyed said that someone’s reclined seat had caused them major discomfort and 3% revealed that they had even suffered an injury.

“A reclined seat can negatively impact upon a person’s overall flight experience, especially if the person in front is being particularly inconsiderate” said Dr Spelman.

Economy seating where sometimes air rage occurs

Economy seating where sometimes air rage occurs

The survey also found that a third of passengers played safe when travelling, with 64% admitting they had never reclined their seat because they were too worried about the reaction they would receive.

When making flight reservations, I always try to book a seat in the front row so I can avoid the seat recliner. Of course this is not an issue when travelling Business Class in one of the newer aircraft, like the Emirates A380 Airbus, where seats are encased in their own pod and the individual lie flat seats do not impact on other passengers.

Children on planes also seem to be a target for air rage, with another recent survey showing a high percentage of those surveyed indicated they would be in favour of child free flights, or child free zones on planes.  Many said they would be prepared to pay extra for the added comfort of being able to enjoy their flight in a child free section of the plane.  Singapore’s Scoot Airlines has taken the lead in introducing child free planes.  I hope other airlines will soon follow this example and introduce child free zones, allowing travellers without children to enjoy their flight in peace and quiet.

Sandra Tiltman 


  1. Susan Sullivan says:

    While enjoying your article and agreeing on reclining seats, I feel I must protest your comments on child free flights. Granted quite a few business people cannot stand their own children so they try to spend as much time away from them as possible, but there are also well behaved children who pose no problem on planes. Noisy children usually grow into noisy adults and I have rarely seen airlines not wanting their custom.

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