One of the drawbacks of frequent flying with limited leg room is the hassle of people who recline their seats.

But what can you do when faced with those who believe they have the right to recline?

One of the draw backs of frequent flying is the hassle of people who recline their seats.  Just as you get comfortable and ready to read your book – BANG – back comes the seat right in your face and against your knees and the rest of the journey is spent looking at the top of someones head.
People who recline their seats on flights are a bit like middle lane drivers on the motorway – no one you talk to admits to doing it – but when you are on a flight the person in front of you always does.

The last thing most of us want is to fall out with our fellow passengers, but what can be done? Here are some ways people employ to get the message across.

The first is to try diplomacy.

Politely ask the person in front to please put their seat back up. Sounds easy but be prepared, this is often met with various excuses ranging from the medical – ‘I’ve got a bad back, leg or something else’ (in a whiney voice of course), to a straightforward, but unhelpful ‘NO’ that’s if you get a response at all!

Then there’s the physical methods.

Getting up and down lots of times and grabbing the head rest of the seat in front can be satisfying (especially if you catch a hand full of their hair! whoops!) but go careful – it could be seen as asking for a fight.

Perhaps try coughing or sneezing on the head of the person who reclines into your face at meal time. Not very gentile, but with the paranoia of Bird Flu, SARS etc you may be lucky and see the seat go back up.

Putting an apple, orange or big water bottle in the seat pocket will dig uncomfortably into their back. You may find they now want to talk to you, to ask you to remove it. You can then try negotiation – ‘well if you move your seat to the upright position I’ll have room to put it somewhere else’.

How about inflicting them with a stiff neck? Aim your air vent at the back of their head. Not comfortable for them and again might do the trick.

Prevention rather than cure?

Pull your table down and jam an airline pillow or jumper into the arms supporting the table between the seat back. This should stop the seat going back.

Invented by an American who was fed up with people reclining on him is a device like the ‘Knee Defender’ which does it all for you. It’s a pair of small plastic blocks which fit onto the arms of the table and stops the seat in fron reclining.  Its neat and cheap and not liked by airlines – every reason to buy one then!

Enjoy your next flight and we hope you have plenty of leg room! By the way we don’t accept any responsibility for air rage incidents resulting from our advice, and if you have any neat ideas for solving this dilemma – please send them in to us here at

Happy flying!