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Delta Testing Limiting Recline of Seats

Article linked below. Short version--they are reducing recline on their A320's in all cabin classes to see what the feedback is from customers. Since it's only the A320, these are not intercontinental flights. I realize we all want more space, and fewer seats would be ideal, but until the majority of the flying public changes their buying habits (making lowest cost their primary--or sole--criteria) that isn't going to happen. I do give Delta kudos for trying something and seeing how it goes.

https://skift.com/2019/04/12/delta-air-lines-plans-to-reduce-seat-recline-in-bet-to-make-flyers-happy/

Posted by
10344 posts

The change will be nice if it reduces the ability of the passenger in front of you from reclining the seat into your lap!

Posted by
2488 posts

One more reason to avoid the sardine can they call economy.

Posted by
1178 posts

The change will be nice if it reduces the ability of the passenger in front of you from reclining the seat into your lap!

I seem to recall that they recline about 3-4 inches. Hardly into someone’s lap.

This will make it more difficult for people with lower back issues as they need to recline a bit. That said, limiting it to flights of 2 hours or less shouldn’t affect most.

Posted by
2650 posts

I never recline (and I fly Delta a lot). So, win for me!

Posted by
415 posts

Just shove me in the overhead bin and wake me up when we get there.

Posted by
4656 posts

Dave, I never recline, so it's a win for the person behind me!

Posted by
5011 posts

It's a win for the airline, not you.

This will simply allow them to reduce seat pitch further (the space between the seat in front of you and your seat) by another couple of inches. The "problem" as it exists today is a result of squeezing the seats too close together. This will make seat comfort worse, not better.

Worth noting: they claim this "test" is only on short flights. But aircraft are moved from one route to another constantly; no airline can afford to restrict some of it's planes to just certain routes. Once they reconfigure a plane like this, it will inevitably be moved to longer routes. This will become the new defacto standard for longer flights going forward.

Posted by
4411 posts

I seem to recall that they recline about 3-4 inches. Hardly into someone’s lap.

When you're a big chap like me who likes to watch his tablet on the table folded down (or simply have somewhere to place my drink then yes, when the person in front reclines (never have I once been asked if it was ok) then the table is definitely in my lap and is incredibly uncomfortable and restricting. It's one reason I no longer fly economy long haul. I have never reclined my seat when in economy because I know how uncomfortable and restrictive it is for the person in front. If you want to lie down or sleep then fly business or first, if that's too prohibitive then resign yourself to sitting up straight.

I flew recently on one of the remaining European flights that have reclining seats and the woman in front reclined without warning or asking if it was ok, I was eating my meal at the time and fortunately managed to catch my drink in time. I politely asked her to place the seat back and explained why but she resolutely refused, claiming it was her right and that I should recline. Eventually I had to request the intervention of the cabin crew.

I welcome this move by Delta (even though I've vowed never to fly them again)

Posted by
2841 posts

The prospect of the person in front of me reclining into my lap is why I upgraded an overseas flight to Premium Economy. My daughter almost had her computer screen snapped in half when the passenger in front of her quickly reclined his seat all the way back. I think this is a good policy to protect people from the passengers who are only thinking of their own comfort with no consideration for the people seated behind them. And while I'm ranting, this also applies to the people who think their right to have peanuts on a flight supersedes the rights of people with peanut allergies to remain alive. And no, I don't have any family or friends with this life-threatening allergy, but remember hearing about a child at my child's daycare, which was located next to the hospital, who almost died before they could get him to the hospital.

Posted by
11450 posts

Ive never understood why people think they get less space if person reclines in front of them.. you simply recline YOUR seat and viola you get the same amount of space.

I dont need to recline on shorter flights.. ( less than 4 hours).. but damm right I will recline on my transalantic flights. I need to sleep, and its uncomfortable enough without someone expecting me to sit up straight for 10 hours.. sorry, not going to happen, recline your seat and go to sleep too.

I do agree that one should put their seats up during mealtimes.. but thats only an hour or so.. out of 8-12 hours..

I also think the point made above about the airlines being the real winners is valid.. those cheapo inter europeon airlines have no recline seats.. which is fine ( we used several of them multiple times) .. because those flights tend to be less than 4 hours.. and they can cram more seats in.. its about money saving ( for them ) not about any feelings about making someone who doesnt want a recliner person in front of them.. They dont care.. its about eventually being able to make seating even tighter.

Posted by
2841 posts

@Pat If everyone reclines their seats, where does that leave the people in the very last row who can't recline?

Edited: I know this isn't an option in some markets or for Delta frequent fliers, but passengers who want more seat recline can possibly fly a different airline.

Posted by
1642 posts

I have not flown Delta in many years.

But, in line with "reclining seating," I normally don't. I get an aisle seat and that is okay for me. I usually get up to walk back to the galley or restroom in the back of the plane.

My last trip on BA, I had two seat mates -- a husband and wife. The wife had the window, her husband the middle. They were both very nice and courteous. The husband had wine but was careful to not fill his glass to the top and he capped the bottle until his next refill. I appreciate a conscientious traveler.

The man in front of my seat reclined and stayed that way. About midway in flight, the husband and wife asked to be excused to get up, stretch, etc.

The man in front of me would not put up his seat; he was awake. I leaned on the seat back of his chair to get up and out. The husband and wife did the same. It was horribly tight. We could not believe how inconsiderate he was. He had the gall to give the man a dirty look. The couple may have said something to the FA. The FA came by later to speak with the man.

Posted by
1178 posts

People with lower back disabilities have to recline on the plane to relieve the pressure on their lower back. This is due to the slight upward tilt of the plane moving the force of gravity from the hips to the lower back. The only way to counteract this is to have seats facing backwards. Then people get airsick. So yeah, people with lower back disabilities are gonna recline. They also have taken pain pills, done their stretches, broken up their flights into shorter segments, and brought a lumbar support. And they’ll still be in pain 2 days later.

Posted by
1642 posts

Unless it's quite obvious, most people don't know of a person's disability or discomfort. Most passengers cannot read a person to know if they have issues, took pain pills, etc.

I suppose the reasoning could work both ways -- if a person needs to be fully reclined because of a medical issue, they too can look into other seat or cabin options.

Adding, perhaps there is another who may have a slight disability or may still be recuperating from surgery (and a lot of PT) but otherwise felt okay to travel. Maybe that passenger would appreciate the one in front to put up their seat for a couple of minutes so the one behind can get out comfortably without a struggle as well as not "affecting" the one behind them (trying to get up and out with their medical issue or discomfort.)

There are self-entitled people everywhere.

Posted by
1683 posts

If someone leans back into your lap why not then give them a head scratch or massage? Imagine all the people living life in peace, being kind to each other?

BTW, anyone else had a nearly full glass of orange juice dropped into their lap by a fast leaner? Yeah, that was fun. Nice and wet in the lap for several hours.

In today's society when common courtesy is far from common, it seems an increasing number of people don't care about anyone else.

On a side note as I rapidly approach 60 and economy basic seats are getting more uncomfortable, it's either premium (maybe delight or whatever has a little more room) or we're not going. A trip of 2 or so hours then economy basic/vertical is fine. Just gut it out.

Posted by
745 posts

Another way for the airlines to make us a little more uncomfortable and somehow squeeze in yet another row of seats or force us to pay extra for what used to be standard and civilized. And my last few flights I have started paying for the few inches of extra room.

As someone with 40-plus years of back trouble, I can tell you non-believers that sitting bolt upright in those awful seats becomes miserable very quickly. I have to recline the bloody seat, but never all the way and I never ram it back all at once, as the person in front of me did on our first overseas flight. I really do need to put the seat back at least a little, but I’m very conscious of not being an inconsiderate jerk to the person behind.

Posted by
1642 posts

Big Mike, as usual, you give me a chuckle. I agree with your sentiments as well as Stoutfella's thoughts. Kindness and consideration works both ways.

Also, people who have arthritis get stiff sitting in one position. It can be a little difficult getting up and out of their own seat in addition to having to struggle with a fully reclined seat. Someone having arthritis and learning to be a contortionist is not a good mix either. Compromise and courtesy is appreciated.

Posted by
4411 posts

Don’t expect to have room for a larger computer. And if you’re a larger person you may need to upgrade.

A Samsung Tab S2 is the antithesis of a large computer. At 6'3" I have no control over my size but a bit of decent common courtesy is not too much to ask for. As it is, fed up with the ignorance of so many people I no longer fly economy on long haul.

Posted by
1178 posts

Adding, perhaps there is another who may have a slight disability or may still be recuperating from surgery (and a lot of PT) but otherwise felt okay to travel. Maybe that passenger would appreciate the one in front to put up their seat for a couple of minutes so the one behind can get out comfortably without a struggle as well as not "affecting" the one behind them (trying to get up and out with their medical issue or discomfort.)

There is the Air Carrier Access Act that allows you to request a bulkhead or extra space seat at no additional charge. There is no need to restrict the recline of others in order to accommodate more room. For example, for my disability I ask for a seat on the right side aisle that reclines. I can usually self accommodate without getting the airline involved (except to notify them that I have a need). These things can usually be worked out ahead of time.

Posted by
1016 posts

Reclining seats is why I bit the bullet and go Premium Economy or Business on overseas flights with British and American Airlines. The last straw came when on a flight to London, the young man in front of me reclined his seat all the way the minute we were airborne and never moved even during meal service. Asked him nicely to move forward so I could at least eat my meal and open my drink and my seat mate did as well. Man ignored me and when I called over a FA and she asked him, he said he paid for his seat and that I'd have to "deal with it". FA just shrugged her shoulders. Bottom line, if you want a good night sleep don't recline your seat all the way because when the person in back of you wants to get up they will grab ahold of your seat head. Also I may have left my light on all night to shine in his eyes.

A little common courtesy goes a long way. I really don't mind if people recline but at mealtime know that it's a big inconvenience for the person in back. Sadly, I remember the days when the floor space in economy plus was the norm for economy.

Posted by
6750 posts

This seems like rational idea from Delta. Nothing wrong with testing out new business models and getting reaction to how they work. It's obvious they have at least some intuition from their customers that the pendulum with reclining has swung too far in one direction, and perhaps a compromise may work out better.

I think developing the ability of a seat to fully recline into someone else's space to the point of affecting their ability to work, eat, (even sleep head-down on top of the serving tray, like I do) is the most cynical attempt of airlines to shift all the cost to another individual instead of providing a bit more room so that both folks can be (relatively more) comfortable.

Posted by
1683 posts

Just think about the mindset of someone who says something like, "Deal with it. I paid for my seat." Just let that sink in a moment. I was at a West Virginia football game where in front of us three good ole boys were standing all the time and drunk as a skunk, profanity and all. An elderly gentleman asked if they could "please sit down," but they ignored him. It got ugly after awhile and security arrived, but this is not an uncommon occurrence. "I bought my ticket so (blank) you."

As for recline, we have to remember the airlines are a business. Money rules.

Girasole, the best part was being handed napkins to wipe up my lap, which of course was practically futile. They were khaki pants, so you know, can't hide it.

Posted by
1642 posts

Girasole, the best part was being handed napkins to wipe up my lap, which of course was practically futile. They were khaki pants, so you know, can't hide it.

Gee Mike, that is horrible. I've been pretty fortunate to have nice seatmates in my row within my travels. Now that I think of it, I can recall only this one last time that the seat in front of me was fully reclined.

I always wear black on the plane. I pack a large microfiber hand towel. As I stated above in another post, I appreciated my seat mate who filled his glass with a bit of red wine but capped the little bottle until he was ready for another glass.

There will always be someone who causes an issue which directly affects others: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/alaska-airlines-flight-diverts-because-of-passenger-lighting-cigarette

Ugh, I could never be a FA, lol. I would be fired the same day -- too busy dope smacking people upside the head.

Posted by
1642 posts

An elderly gentleman asked if they could "please sit down," but they ignored him.

Not cool. No respect for previous generations or people in general. Everyone is so angry. They thrive on intimidation. People walking around with a self-entitled stance; which I can't stand. If it's safe to do so, I "knock that down real fast." But, nowadays, people are not above pulling a gun or a knife for even standing up for what is correct.

People won't stop for people in a crosswalk. People try to out run school buses so they don't have to stop. I can't tell you how many red lights and stop signs I have seen people run right through. I'm talking RED and the light is green for the others. I shudder. If I'm first in line at the lights, I always, always take a few seconds to make sure no idiot is trying out for NASCAR. Some jerk may beep behind me, but too bad.

I saw an older person with a cane. They hit the "handicap" button to have the door open to the business. One middle-aged woman proceeded to rush in front of the person with the cane; could have sent him off balance. I'm like...what tha? I said, you can't wait five seconds? Attitudes come in all ages.

Posted by
1642 posts

Whether it's planes, trains, cars, buses, walking, biking or whatever else, it's come down to "no respect" for your fellow man and woman. We've lost sight and the concept of humanity, kindness and respect.

Posted by
996 posts

Apparently some people are not as excited about this as I am.

Full disclaimer - I fly first/business on Delta. When you fly transatlantic, it doesn't matter who reclines in business class. If you fly any other level of service, it's an issue.

I've flown domestic first class where the person in front of me reclines during the meal service. This means I can't eat comfortably, but I'm not about to recline and do the same thing to the person behind me. First of all, I can't eat in a reclined position. Second, I know what happens when the person in front of you reclines their seat.

I'm excited about this change on Delta's behalf. It will make it more comfortable for every class of service.

Posted by
153 posts

On a day flight back from Milan the woman in front of my husband slammed her seat back and began to bounce the seat around early on. To gain back a little space, he also reclined. The person behind him asked the flight attendant to have him put his seat up. He said, "Sure, as long as the woman in front of me puts her seat up, also." The attendant must have decided that wasn't going to work because she didn't say anything to the woman in front of him and they both remained reclined.

I might recline it the person in front of me does, but I am more apt to instead just use some of the techniques that Heather described above.

I am all for non-reclining seats for all!

Posted by
1642 posts

I've flown domestic first class where the person in front of me reclines during the meal service. This means I can't eat comfortably, but I'm not about to recline and do the same thing to the person behind me.

I think most are in agreement showing courtesy with reclining their seat. A few mentioned back-related or other issues that reclining their seat makes them more comfortable on a long flight. Understandable.

People should just take a quick look behind them to make sure the other passenger is not engaged in eating or drinking or that they have a tablet on the table. Rocketing a seat back could cause damage as some have mentioned up thread. Some people (a lot of guys) are tall, have long legs and have their knees pushed up against the back. It could be a discomfort to have a seat jammed to your knees.

It can be a big struggle to get out of a seat (even those who are not mobility impaired), to go to the restroom. Yes, travelers will be interrupted in their sleep. It's not a private hotel.

Posted by
925 posts

Yes, the person who slams their seat to full recline right after take-off, refuses a polite request to raise it for meals, and keeps it there until the FA tells them they have to move it because we are about to land....there is a special place in hell for them. I realize this is passive-aggressive, but I have been known to use the top of said reclined seat to help me get up--perhaps even giving it a stronger tug than necessary :-)

Posted by
1642 posts

but I have been known to use the top of said reclined seat to help me get up--perhaps even giving it a stronger tug than necessary :-)

lol! But in seriousness, people who can't get up and out without performing gymnastics, geez. You'd think the person in the upfront seat would get a clue.

I can't understand why someone would not put up their seat, even a little bit so the person behind won't have to struggle (and possibly get injured) trying to get out.

Posted by
7947 posts

I just don't recline my seat, ever. Not even on trans-Atlantic flights. Hate it when others do it to me, so this is my little part to make the world a bit kinder. It truly is impossible for the other people in your row to get up to go to the WC if you are in the aisle seat and the person in front has reclined.
Now, for the people that kick my seat in the back for hours on end, what is that all about? Do they seriously not think I can feel their knees or feet? Last time it was a small woman sitting with her legs crossed. I asked her numerous time to not do it, but she continued. Grrrrr.

Posted by
1642 posts

If someone kept hitting the back of my seat seemingly on purpose, then out comes a roll of duct tape and a hog tying experience they won't forget. JK.

I'm nice but no pushover though.

Posted by
1683 posts

Why not have rules like when seat belts must be latched and seats upright?

At certain times seats must be upright, and at others reclined?

To be honest it's tough to sleep sitting bolt upright, although sleeping on a plane is an iffy proposition anyway.

Posted by
4950 posts

I'm not particularly tall, but my wife is taller than I am. Her knees are almost in contact with the rear of an Economy seat in front of her. When the seat is reclined, the come in contact with her knees. No, she is not a disabled person entitled to Accomodation, but I don't see why a physical reality for the person in front of her should result in pain for her.

I have no problem with limiting the recline of seats. I doubt that less-movable seat backs will be found to be an actionable limitation on disabled fliers. Let's not get into Emotional Support Potbellied Pigs!

Posted by
2650 posts

I was recently boarding a flight in Atlanta to return home after a transatlantic itinerary that began at 6 am in Germany. I had a window seat. I entered my row with my back to the row in front of me. As soon as I walked in front of my seat, the guy in the seat in front of mine rapidly dropped his seat right into my back. Zero acknowledgment. Zero apology. I'm generally a mild-mannered guy, but that made me really angry (perhaps because of sleep deprivation?). I wish I were a better person, but I sat down and... uhh... aggressively placed my backpack under the seat. My shoulder repeatedly into the back of his seat... a few knees... perhaps even a head butt just for my own satisfaction. Then... Gee... I forgot to get something out of my bag! Process repeated. The guy gave a half look over his shoulder, but no words were exchanged.

Posted by
1683 posts

Can one take a cat with them for emotional support? Granted, our cat will meow the entire trip in a very whiny, way, but I gotta look out for number 1. I have no doubt my doctor would write a note for it.

Posted by
2841 posts

@BMWBGV Your cat would just be expressing the feelings of the rest of the passengers.

Posted by
12400 posts

I always recline on a flight in sardine Economy going to Europe, it's a win , ( agree with Dave here), for me since I know I'll fall asleep sooner in a reclined seat than otherwise..

How much reclining is involved depends upon if anyone is behind me. The last three trips on flights going over on BA I absolutely lucked out where I reclined to the max as no one was behind me. Of course, I had asked about this at check-in when I asked for and got my seat in the rear.

Even when someone is behind me, over 98%, I still recline but discreetly, which means I'll sleep anyway.

Just because you recline does not mean there will be a complaint. No one has ever complained since I never give the person cause to do so.

Posted by
4411 posts

No one has ever complained since I never give the person cause to do so.

Or maybe nobody has complained because they feel uncomfortable doing so. Many people don't like confrontation, many people would mutter and grumble under their breath but still not feel comfortable complaining to you.

Posted by
2754 posts

I might have said this before, forgive me. I am like Jo, but I might recline my seat if the person in front of me has, and the seat behind me is empty or the person behind me has reclined his/her seat. I always check the size of the person behind me before reclining and wouldn't consider it if the person is tall or large. Just because other people can be inconsiderate, doesn't mean that I have to be. However, sometimes I have to use the back of the seat in front of me to get out of my seat if it is fully reclined, particularly if my armrest doesn't rise, as my ability for gymnastics has decreased with age...

I also leave the inside arm rest for the person in the middle, but that's another topic...

Posted by
12400 posts

Maybe a multiple choice of "maybe" this or that. If the person says nothing, then is there a problem...maybe or maybe not. He has the problem if he sees it that way.

Have I encountered the person in front of me reclining his all way in front of me? Several times, not really fun, but I can live with it the going over...do I let the guy know of this inconvenience, ie, his barging into my space, of course not. It is a bit tedious however at meal time.

Sitting in a reclined seat ( discreetly and slightly) or an upright one in Economy on a ca. 11 hour trans-Atlantic flight in one way makes no difference as far as sleeping is concerned since I know I'll sleep anyway, the main difference is how long.

I recline all the way, the max, if no one is behind me, which luckily has been the case the last 3, maybe 4, flights going over thanks to choosing the seat last minute at check-in.

Posted by
11450 posts

I think the seats should be up at meal time.. however.. sorry.. I don't think your tablet watching is my issue, .. you could do that for 8 hours.. I am not keeping my seat up for 8 hours so you can watch game of thrones.. lol

Nope.. meal times.. all seats up.. but other than that.. reclining is fair... if a person is so large that someone reclining in front of them is an issue.. why dont they pay for extra leg room ? Why is my responsibility to NOT use a seat that was sold to me as a seat that reclined ?

I am the first one to help someone on the stairs with their bag or baby stroller, I will bend over backwards to help someone who is lost, but I will not put my back out for you.. sorry.. you are misplacing the anger at the issue.. the issue is THE SEATS ARE TOO CLOSE TOGETHER.. and that is exactly what the airline likes.. its all down to cramming up more and more in..

So choose your airline and seat wisely.. I do.. months in advance..

I

Posted by
4411 posts

I think the seats should be up at meal time.. however.. sorry.. I don't think your tablet watching is my issue, .. you could do that for 8 hours.. I am not keeping my seat up for 8 hours so you can watch game of thrones.. lol

In that case then your back problem is not my issue either. Does your back problem trump the problem of my crushed legs or my ability to move out of my seat to use the toilet or just to resume the blood flow in my legs? If your back problem is so bad that you need to lie down for an eight hour flight then pay to fly business class. Why should others suffer becuase of your problems? It is because of such selfishness that I fly business or first when flying long haul because tray down or not, it's impossible for me to do anything and I'm trapped in a position that will likely rival if not be more dangerous than the discomfort you feel in your back.

Posted by
6750 posts

I think the seats should be up at meal time

The problem is that "meal times" can be in the middle of the night or really odd hours, and some people sleep through them. Airline Flight Attendants do not typically wake people up at meal time if they are visibly asleep. So this option is unlikely to work. The only two instances I've seen Flight Attendants be adamant about the tray tables are take-off and landing because they're required to do this.

This is totally counterproductive but typical of why it's so hard to change bad policies. People would rather divide themselves into "who-is-the-worst-off-victim" camps and throw barbs at each other instead of banding together, using their total numbers as leverage, and fighting the real culprit which created this physical environment in the first place. No one will win by arguing that they're more "deserving" of extremely constrained space than another person, unless you equate winning with popular opinion and getting the mobs to side with you. The internet and even (nice) forums like these create faux indignation and outrage which have nothing to do with this post to begin with (incidentally, the post is about Delta trying out a pilot focused narrowly on short flights, and seeing how it goes). Chill out, folks...several posts were already removed from this thread. More of the same (including trying to subtly shame people who, for whatever reason, cannot pay for first or business or even economy premium class) is not going to solve anything. If you can buy your way out to a luxuriously sized seat or separate yourself from all kinds of human discomfort, great. But not everyone is in that boat. I'm sure every airline is happy the heat is off them and instead the passengers get to duke it out amongst themselves. I think decades ago, there would have been civility and even ability for people to negotiate these things kindly and respectfully on their own, but this is not the world we're in now (we're in a zero sum game world where I've got mine and who cares about you, not to mention the "status" caste system perpetuated by airlines, credit cards, hotels, etc that perpetuates an ingrained system of haves, have-nots, and never-will-haves).

Posted by
687 posts

While I appreciate the point Agnes is making, I removed some posts to put an end to that type of discussion. Let's bring the discussion back to the OP's subject from here forward. Thanks!

Posted by
12400 posts

It is easier at meal rimes when the seat is up...very true. I make sure I do exactly that at that time, after which I can recline discreetly. But, true too that there are those who don't put their seat up at meals, which makes it a bit more tedious for me to eat.

I still adjust to it knowing that soon after the last call for coffee/tea I'll be sleeping away, making the remaining flight duration, ca 6.5 hrs, even shorter.

Posted by
2841 posts

I think reducing but not eliminating the recline is a compromise that will not please anyone-which makes it a good compromise. Maybe Congress could learn something?