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Seat kickers and reclining seat slammers; our air travel pet peeves

The world and I are one.

A recent Expedia poll of travellers finds that two of my biggest pet peeves about travelling are exactly the same things that bother most of you, namely seat kickers and seat reclining slammers.

Sixty four per cent of respondents said rear-seat kicking is their biggest pet peeve. Next on the annoy-o-meter was the seat slammer, mentioned by 59 % of those surveyed. Other big no-no’s on the list were “aromatic” passengers; those with too much cologne or not enough time in the shower, as well as excessive booze hounds and folks who think we really want to hear Justin Bieber’s latest ditty (or even Frank Sinatra) coming out of their cheap headphones.

Few things about flying in a tin can at 37,000 feet with no air and little to do are as annoying as a little kid kicking the back of your seat. Inevitably this happens when you’re just about to finally fall asleep, or when you’re stuck on one of those old planes and the only thing to watch on the tiny overhead screen is an Adam Sandler movie.

Seat Kickers I can kinda understand because they’re usually kids. And kids aren’t expected to necessarily know the rules, although you think their parents might try to instruct them on the niceties of flying in crowded conditions at over-inflated prices amongst people who are angry at having to spend $25 to check their bag on a visit to Nova Scotia to see Aunt Alice in Halifax.

No, what’s worse are adults who INSIST ON RECLINING THEIR SEAT ON BOARD.

I’m not a saint (I think I cut some people off at the rental car lineup at Fort Lauderdale Airport last week when I was in a hurry to make a lunch appointment), but I do try to think of the person behind me and, therefore, almost never recline my seat unless it’s an overnight flight. Then, I figure, everyone is doing it and folks want to sleep, so it’s not a problem. But I try to do it slowly and try to avoid doing so when meals are being served or eaten.

But I don’t touch the recliner on a day-time flights as a lot of folks (like me) are trying to type things out on a laptop. With today’s seating arrangements in cattle class, trying to type on a laptop on an airplane is very difficult and almost requires immediate work from an expensive masseuse or physical therapist upon landing unless you’re a paid contortionist. If someone reclines their seat in front of me, it’s incredibly difficult for me to work. On a three-hour flight, that’s a lot of lost work time.

Here’s my unsolicited and probably unwanted advice: If you DO have to recline your seat, people, turn around and mention the incoming seat to the person behind you so they can move their coffee or red wine out of the way. It’s common courtesy. Then, once the person behind you has said, “oh, really, it’s fine,” even thought they don’t mean it, go ahead and RECLINE YOUR SEAT GENTLY.

The “seat reclining slam” might be a good future Olympic event, but it’s bad manners on a plane.

I’m pleased to see that the Expedia survey found 23 % of fliers don’t recline their seats at all. Cheers to you folks, and thank you.

Here are some other thoughts from the Expedia report: 40 % of folks said they’re annoyed when sitting next to a “Chatty Cathy” on the plane, while 35 % said they’d pay extra to sit in a quiet zone. Sixty six per cent of those surveyed said they switch their phones to “airplane mode” in the air, but 15 per cent said they never do so.

I didn’t see any mention of the “slow-poke” plane departure people but they drive me crazy. “Oh, where’s my bag? It’s over there? Oh, okay. Let me pick up the pretzels I didn’t quite finish and stuff my blanket into my bag and I’ll go find the huge knapsack I had to bring on the plane to avoid that $25 bag fee and get all ready while the rest of you sit in the back of the plane and miss the cab you scheduled to have dinner with good old Aunt Alice.”

On a related travel note, I see today that American Airlines is following United’s suit and has introduced “basic economy” as a fare class. In exchange for what they promise (we’ll see) as rock-bottom fares, passengers will have to accept not being able to make a seat assignment, not getting an upgrade (almost impossible these days anyway) and not having access to overhead bins.

I can live with it. I’ll have to. But calling something “basic economy” is a joke. Economy class became basic, oh, about 17 years ago.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Benny 23 January 2017, 6:40 am

    for ‘kicking’ it is seat recliners problem for taller people sitting behind- when no room to move legs and feet you have to touch or knock the seatback with your shoes or put pressure on it with knees – the seatback recliner should be considerate and move seat up to allow for more space behind.

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