Why reclining your seat on an airplane could be dangerous

Decline to recline.

A flight attendant is experiencing turbulence over a TikTok that tells travelers why pushing their seats back on an airplane could be hazardous to their — or someone else’s — health.

Vin, who goes by @ichbinvin on the social media app, shared his expert take on seat etiquette in a video that’s racked up over 8,000 views since being posted last month — and a whole lot of comments.

His number one tip — proceed with great caution. Not only could people get upset because you’re invading their personal space, they might also get hurt. 

“One time when I was working a flight, a woman told me that she broke her nose because the person in front of her reclined her seat too quickly,” Vin told his followers.

That’s why he nose better than to recline his seat forcefully, he said.

“There is no need to push the button and put all of your body weight throwing back into the seat to recline your seat. There’s no need for that.” 

The frequent flyer joked that he has an “Excel spreadsheet” in his mind he refers to when deciding whether to sit back or stay upright. Timing is important, he said.

“Think of the question, ‘can I recline my seat?’ not as a question, but more of a balancing act of two very important things – the time of day and the length of the flight,” he explained. 

He said if you’re on a one-hour flight in the middle of the day, “there’s no need to recline your seat.”

If you're not careful, reclining your seat could break someones nose.
If you’re not careful, reclining your seat could break someone’s nose.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Though if the one-hour flight happens to be at 5 AM: “you could do it.”

He also gives the green light to anyone sitting on a flight that’s over three hours long, regardless of the time of day. 

Vin called a two-hour flight “kind of a gray area” and informed travelers to “read the room.”

“If the stars align and you say okay I’m going to recline my seat, do it gently,” he urged listeners.

Vin said when deciding whether or not to recline, consider the time of day and the length of the flight.
Vin said when deciding whether or not to recline, consider the time of day and the length of the flight.

Vin, who didn’t disclose the name of his employer, said he already knows some people won’t take his advice to heart.

“You can do what you want, you paid for your ticket because I know people will be in the comments saying ‘I paid for my ticket, I can do whatever I want’.

“Yes, while that may be true, it doesn’t make you not an a——e. Okay?” he said. 

Commenters had strong opinions on the subject.

Vin has an "Excel spreadsheet" in his mind with seat reclining dos and don'ts.
Vin has an “Excel spreadsheet” in his mind with seat reclining dos and don’ts.

“Thinking back to the time I got cracked in the skull while leaning forward to get something and the passenger rammed her seat back,” said one.

“Just don’t. I’m 6 feet tall and I’m telling you, just don’t. Especially not on a long flight,” said another.

“You have to ASK! THE! PERSON! It’s usually fine but this guy absolutely cracked my head because I was leaning down to get something. I was so mad,” one recalled.

Others fought for their right to sit back and nap.

“Even On the 1 to 1.5 hrs flight- I recline! I work Night Shift and I usually fly straight off of a shift. I need a nap!,” said a reclining enthusiast. 

“Obviously you’ve never met a travel nurse who’s just worked 7 12 hr nights and flying home,” said another recliner. 

One traveler claimed they simply don’t care what others do.

I’m the person who lays my head on the tray table and I always get jolted when they recline. I don’t complain just readjust and continue on lol,” they said.

The question of whether or not to recline is an ongoing controversy.

One exhausted traveler stirred up anger online with a story of the time they reclined their seat to get some sleep, only to be confronted by the passenger behind them who insisted their need to get some work done on their laptop was more important.

And economy cabin passengers aren’t the only one getting into conflicts — a Reddit user made a stir recently with their tale of the time reclining his seat in First Class almost resulted in a mid-flight melee.

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