What to do when the idiot in front reclines their airline seat?
We've all sat behind one of them at some time or another. The self-centred airline passenger who barely waits for the "fasten seat belt" sign to be turned off before slamming their seat back into full recline mode and "going to sleep". Never mind that you've not had the chance to eat yet; you are immediately squeezed into an even smaller economy class space than you had before.
If you are lucky the airline crew may ask the selfish fool in front to return their seat to upright until the meal service has been concluded. Or they may not. Many cabin crew, particularly from Asian airlines, try their hardest to avoid any confrontation. So it is up to you to resolve the situation - preferably without getting involved in a slanging match of the style which recently cost a New Zealand man a $600 fine and a lecture from a magistrate.
Shane Diedrichs appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court charged with offensive and disorderly behaviour aboard a flight from Wellington to Brisbane last November.
The court heard he took umbrage when the man in front reclined his seat shortly after take-off and refused to move it forward again. The court heard that Diedrichs became agitated and began pushing, kicking and kneeing the man's seat, making "violent gestures", and speaking in an aggression tone. I think he was perfectly within his rights to push, kick and knee the seat in front if he did not have sufficient space, but he probably went too far when he struck the reclining passenger's headrest and returned from his new seat to verbally abuse him. Here's how he should have handled it. He should have asked the person in front politely to put their seat upright. If the passenger refused, he should have alerted the air crew to the fact that his space was being invaded and the stress was causing him to make jerky motions that he hoped would not cause problems for the person in front. But he had to remain calm and polite at all times and blame the person in front for causing his discomfort. If the passenger in front was trying to sleep, he could have coughed and spluttered loudly in a forward direction, blaming his problem on increased claustrophobia. Politely, of course. In most cases either the air crew would have immediately moved him, or the dickhead sitting in front, to a new seat. In Diedrichs' case they should certainly have done their job and spoken severely to the person in front. But sometimes you simply have to take things in hand yourself.