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'Legroom war' rages as planes grow more cramped


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I avoid flying if at all possible. Found trains to be more enjoyable

5 ( +6 / -1 )


I avoid flying if at all possible. Found trains to be more enjoyable

AGREED!!!!....If I HAVE to fly (i.e. overseas) I fly Business Class . .to avoid the personal discomfort as well as the aggravation of other flyers . .. though J flyers are pretty polite and restrained . . .

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Isnt reclining seats just expected on long haul flights?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I avoid flying if at all possible. Found trains to be more enjoyable

That's great, but what about the people that have to fly overseas? I personally can't stand the (Mafia) airline industry. The only thing they care about is $$$$ and if that means making us less comfortable and packing us in like sardines, then so be it. You pay these outlandish surcharge fees, you get half-way decent food and often the service is lackluster depending on the airliner, but fact is, flying should be reasonable, affordable and comfortable without any hassles and now it's getting to the point where we are hearing more people fighting and more planes being diverted, with the events going on, this is bad all away around. But the (Mafia) airline industry they could care less as consumers how we feel or think and unfortunately, it will only get worse.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Any passengers don't have right to lock somebody's seat slyly with "knee defender". If seats have purpose to be reclined for passengers, they are allowed go ahead to recline seats as much as they want, but except meal times.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

@JoahuYaki. The question is what is long haul. These incidents were on 3 or 4 hour domestic flights. Some would say they shouldn't have to have their legs broken.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

she said, advising passengers to lean back slowly “so you don’t slam into someone"


This! You should have the right to recline you seat, just don't slam it back into my knees. Ease it back and give me time to sit up straight. Can't we all just git along?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The seat doesn't recline that far...

People who dive backwards without warning deserve a smack upside the head, as do the people who poke the seat back screens with enough force to jostle the person in front of them, and the ones who use seat backs to heave themselves out of their seats (and why do those people seem to have the tiniest bladders?) . Planes are too cramped, and people are getting angry. I don't expect the airlines to do anything about it anytime soon, though.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

knee defenders should be banned in airplanes. Reclining is an option and to be expected when flying on an airplane. To just block someone from reclining is idiotic. I can understand that its annoying but alas, you are not a king.

And to the person who said, people should fly business class......please pay my ticket mr rich man. Not everyone has the cash to pay for a businessclass ticket.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

If you're not tall you wont understand, once the person in front reclines, the seat is jammed up against your knees, you can't see the TV anymore, you can't use the tray table, you can't use a laptop, you can't even read a magazine anymore because there isn't enough space.

They need to make a recline and non recline sections of the plane like they used to have with smoking and non smoking years ago.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The last time I travelled on a plane, I was surprised they got rid of the remote control. They had a touch screen panel and were expecting passengers to use it to play games - not only is your arm going to get tired, the passenger in front is going to get annoyed with all that poking.

Reclining the seat doesn't help me one bit - I can never sleep on the plane. What would help is if they put more effort into the design of the seat, especially the head rest. I find myself in a hunchback position, because the headrest juts out.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The economics of air travel have turned economy class cabins into sardine cans. There are just not enough customers to make more frequent flights with more spacious planes.

I hate flying (except in business or first) and always prefer trains. Just compare the heavenly spaciousness of a Shinkansen interior with that of an airplane. Oh, and you can buy all sorts of snacks and get up and wander around all you want. Bigger windows, better scenery, etc.

Flying has become a miserable, fascistic experience for most everybody.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

If tall people don't like it, then make them pay extra for bigger chairs.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Before reclining, or making your seat upright again, look behind you.

Judge the situation. Is the passenger behind you doing something that make changing your seat's position a problem for he/her?

If awake, ask. Try smiling a little. Leading scientists have confirmed there are no long term hazards to your health.

Change the angle slowly.

Don't recline all the way back if there's no need. Usually halfway is enough.

All of the above.
10 ( +10 / -0 )

What I hate is when the FA asks everyone to out those seats up for meal service. Then as soon as the FA is gone recline the dam. Seat when your tray is down and your food is on the tray. Happened to the poor woman beside me. Knocked her food off the table and all over her.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Again, there is NO excuse for any of this! The (Mafia) air industry has Billions of $$$$ and instead of compacting the planes, they could get a lot more customers, if they would make the seats more comfortable. it is NOT that difficult. What is sad, but interesting is after 9/11, air travel was so bad, the airline industry lost millions and started slashing ticket prices in order to attract customers and it did work for awhile and then once air travel became relaxed and more people started flying on a regular basis, the prices went back up and up. So there are ways they could cut costs and give the customers what they all deserve an enjoyable flight. But sadly, they don't care.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

i think i am on the side of the non-recliners. the amount of recline in a normal economy seat is so pathetic anyway it's almost like "what's the point"? but the discomfort to the person behind is very real. airlines should allow a little more legroom per passenger and disable all reclining functions. i am lucky enought to mainly travel Business Class where this is not an issue.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Would pay extra for a non recline seat in front of me, but not 2-3 times the ticket fare for business or 1st class!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I feel that a lot of people recline just because they can and they feel 'cool' doing so. Unless you are literally trying to sleep, a fully reclined position isn't even that comfortable in my opinion. I usually only recline 5 degrees or so since the upright position doesn't suit the way I usually sit (seatback is too straight).

Anyway, this wouldn't be an issue if every airline went the ANA route and introduced seating that can 'recline' by moving parts of the seat down and forward. This way, the person behind isn't affected.

3 ( +4 / -1 )


If you're not tall you wont understand, once the person in front reclines, the seat is jammed up against your knees, you can't see the TV anymore, you can't use the tray table, you can't use a laptop, you can't even read a magazine anymore because there isn't enough space.

Change airlines.

Use this next time you book a flight. It's a bit out of date but gives seat pitch and recline values for most of the major carriers. http://www.smarttravelasia.com/economy.htm

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@jefflee Then how about you stuff yourself in a suitcase to save space since you're small enough to fit in one and pay extra for a real seat if you don't like that?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

airlines were reducing space for economy class passengers in order to make more room for first and business class passengers, who pay far higher ticket prices.

I think this is the real issue here. You're paying for a seat, but the seats no longer fit an average adult. That's just ridiculous. It is like subway's "footlong" sandwiches being 11 inches. It is dishonest.

I think we should plan an international economy no-fly day. One day around the world where economy passengers protest at the steadily diminishing seat sizes. Let airlines know that they can't keep shrinking seat sizes without customers striking back.

And yes, it would work. The reason is that it doesn't matter if people fly the next day, because (as we discovered after 9/11) it costs airlines a LOT more to land those planes for a day because airports aren't parking lots.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Flying today is way too much of a nightmare either way. Take the train or ship. Let those airlines starve off who treat people like cattle.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I'm around 6 foot one (186 cms) and travel is now pure hell on most airlines. To decide that the person behind you has no right whatsoever to the pathetic amount of space he or she purchased is plain rude. To sleep reclined for an hour or two is one thing, but to slam your seat back and leave it that way for ten hours of a twelve hour flight from Tokyo to London is the behavior of an ignorant selfish little wanker. To not even look around before you deliberately injure the person behind you is staggering. What kind of person does this?

People are getting taller, but the amount of legroom on offer is reducing. Not only is an economy plus seat almost double the price of regular economy, for some reason it is often taxed more highly too. Why is there no option of paying a little more for a 35" seat pitch instead of a 31" seat pitch? Why is the only option paying double the price for a tiny bit of extra space? The airlines are at fault. They struggle to make money because of their welfare programs, especially for retired staff. The seats above cattle class are over-priced and all seating could be fixed shell where people recline inside their own space as it is on ANA flights. Action is needed before more serious incidents take place. People die of DVT after long-haul flights, but the airlines don't care because it is impossible to absolutely prove that the blood clots resulted from the flights the dead people took.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I don't have a problem with the legroom, I'm not that tall (5' 10"), but what I HATE is when the passenger in front of me just reclines his seat all the way... pushing the TV screen to less than 6" from my nose and makes the tray almost impossible to be of any practical use. As for anyone not in an aisle seat wanting to go to the loo... not that easy when the space in front of the seat makes it impossible to stand up.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Thunderbird2, yeah, a lot of the seats recline a very long way. If they won't fit seats that recline inside their own shells, then they should at least limit the recline distance so that other passengers can still use the basic amenities that we have paid for. I understand some people think they have the right to recline so they recline, but others should have the right to use their trays, use the in-flight entertainment and not risk DVT.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I've had a 15" notebook screen crushed because the twit in front of me just reclined the seat with one massive move and the screen got caught in the pocket in the back of the seat where the seat tray table goes when not in use. The guy even had the balls to blame me for using a notebook in economy and said I should have flown in business. Those idiots that slam the seatbacks to full recline are far worse than you'd imagine. They also come in all 'shapes and sizes' so there's no 'one type'.

Also, when meal service starts, I'd use those 'Knee Defenders' but not because I am tall, which I'm not but mainly so I can eat without having the seatback in my face.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I am 180cm tall. Not particularly tall, but I always feel cramped in an airplane seat. I can't imagine not being able to recline my seat. I have no problems with folks reclining their seat in front of me. I always choose the aisle. It seems that people should collectively sue the airlines to retain humanly sufficient legroom instead of taking it out on each other.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


Boeing wanted more cramped planes, Airbus were pushing for more spacious planes...just read or remember any related news in the last year or google it... probably even a story on this site that was argued about.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Since Sep. 11, 2001, the entire experience of air travel has become an insane nightmare, from check-in and boarding to baggage claim. I have curtailed travel to North America as much as possible and only go there under extreme duress.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@hokkaidoguy thanks for the link, but not that simple, I fly to places where there are only 2-3 airlines to choose from. But that link confirmed my suspicions about JAL having the smallest leg space out of all the JP airlines.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A quick fix that I do , when I go back to the States , as soon I reach my seat , I get rid of the Magazines , that's an instant extra inch , that my legs wont be cramped , I just keep the Vomit bag, just in case. the food is horrible!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

People who always fly business or first class must be laughing their pompous asses off at this, lol.

"Any passengers don't have right to lock somebody's seat slyly with "knee defender". If seats have purpose to be reclined for passengers, they are allowed go ahead to recline seats as much as they want"

Yeah, go right ahead, crush the knees of anyone over 175cm tall, lol.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm 194cm so I barely fit in the seats even when they're not reclined. People in front of my are welcome to recline as much as they want, but they're going to get two wriggling knees in their back the whole flight.

Luckily I can usually snag an emergency exit row seat by checking in early/online, or use my frequent flier miles to upgrade to premium economy/business.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I have full confidence in technology and the airlines that they will develop aircraft that are comfortable even in economy class a few decades after my death.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Victoria Maude, absolutely, but that basic courtesy towards others seems not to exist anymore. I don't understand why the seats tip back so far, unless it's the airlines trying to get anyone over about 170cms in height to pay for more expensive seats. This could easily be fixed, and it must be the airlines who don't want it to be. All airlines could use fixed shell seating if they wanted to, just like ANA does.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

if not knee defenders, how about body defenders? Had a huge dude beside me once and I had to ask him to move. Thankfully there was an empty chair. I'm not paying for blubber boy to ooze all over me.

Both situations mean that the design of plane chairs are increasingly unrealistic. Yes I take the train if at all possible (lots and lots of room!) but if I have to fly I don't go economy. But even business class you get the blubber situation, especially flying out of USA. The cattle-call for the flight. Baggage hell. The overall experience is only going down

I'll not fly AA / United ever again. Virgin/Cathay have been ok. What do you like?

@Osaka_Doug Air Canada depends on the plane. You can get some real crappy ones from Chicago to Toronto.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I never have a problem with leg room when I fly ; )

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wish i could afford to fly Business Class to Japan :(

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's a difficult situation, but it is made easier if people (particularly grown ups) can keep a grip on negative emotions. A flight in economy class will be less than comfortable; however, it's of a limited duration. Extra courtesies to others who are in the same unbearable pinch help. Throwing a two year-old style hissy fit does not. Meditate, do self-hypnosis, get help for anger management, whatever it takes to cope.

It would also help if the airlines cued people as to seat upright (during drink and meal service, for example) or seat reclined periods (during sleep periods) just as they do with seat belts. Designing seats differently would help too. But people who cannot afford first or business class should prepare to suck it up for the duration.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Just immobile everyone with a neck, back and leg braces. That should take care of the problem. Everyone will be in the upright position until the plane lands.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm not looking forward to my flight to Tokyo from Atlanta in October and the return flight to JFK in early November. I spent an extra $100 or so per flight for "Economy Plus" seating, but the "Plus" only equates to about another inch or so of legroom and a seat width that's a hair wider. That said, if the person in front of me wants to recline, I'm going to grumble a bit, but I'm not interfering with the operation of the seat.

Round-trip Economy from IAD to NRT cost me $1032 on Delta (747 outbound, 777 inbound). For fun I looked up the cost for the same flights in 1st class... just shy of $10,000. Yeah. I guess I'll live with the bruised knees.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What a bunch of whinging peasants. If you don't like the humiliation and aggravation of flying steerage class on the airlines, lease a private jet. Flying is not a right, it's a privilege. :)

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

@darnname At a certain point, these "privileges" become necessary for modern life. Some people literally have to fly to do their job in the time allotted to them. Lol, lease a private jet. Instead, some government, any government, should put its foot down on what the minimum seat pitch will be if you want to fly to that country.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This says it all:


1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is solely the airlines fault. they need to have a decent space dedicated for each passenger and make clear whether seats are reclineable or not and how cramped leg room might be for talker passengers at the time people book flights. then they need to make sure people understand. the airlines are at fault.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

reasonable, affordable and comfortable

It is not clear what "reasonable" would entail, but affordable (read: cheap) and comfortable are antithetical values. You want tickets in a world of rising costs (oil, for example, is in the long run not getting cheaper), well you have to make a decision on what you will compromise on.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I only fly across the Pacific if I fly at all lately, but I seldom recline the chair. One reason is because I had a very bad experience with a woman on a flight once. So I look at it this way. Since I do not like it when people recline their seats, I just do NOT recline mine. The only time I usually get upset at a person who reclines their seat is during meal time. It is at that time I get to know the names of the flight attendants and usually they are helpful. Why do planes fly anyway? LOL

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, this sounds completely familiar. Cruise ships are becoming more and more dangerous because they're trying to get more and more passengers on a single ship because more passengers = more money. And if they're trying to add more seats to planes its the exact same thing. We gotta get a grip on this greed thing folks. Greed always leads to corruption and much worse things.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Wow, everyone I've ever flown next to, behind, or in front of has been incredibly polite, kind, and friendly, and none of them has ever impinged on my personal space or minded if I reclined my seat slightly for comfort. I always think everyone's really nice on planes...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

In case you haven't seen this clip of the No Frills Airline from Carol Burnett, things have been pretty bad in economy for about.....40 years! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QCz8he36hsk This says it all! I remember United trying to stuff my 7 month old baby into a bassinet under the seat in front of me!! When I asked for "infant meal" I got a jar of pureed carrots. Could have brought that with me. The same airline had put my 2 year old toddler 7 rows BEHIND me, the mother!! I was told, "He can handle it. My kid flies alone all the time!" ...a two year old!? Response from a flight attendant when called is "WHAT!?" I loathe flying. I understand it is a difficult job, probably a thankless one. I try not to recline. Ever been stuck in the middle of 5 seats? Better hope you never have to use the restroom or that others to the left or right will allow you the one trip to the restroom trying to maneuver the reclined seats as you contort your way to the aisle. Other countries have pretty good service and are more comfortable and hospitable I have been told.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just avoid the U.S. airlines and their "Obasan" flight attendants. I can't believe how immature the U.S. airlines have become at the expense of the passengers. Not worth the pain of air travel at all. Going through security at U.S. seems like cattle to me. I'd rather pay the extra money and fly the Asian airlines.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

"I can't believe how immature the U.S. airlines have become at the expense of the passengers. Not worth the pain of air travel at all"

I once asked a Delta attendant "What's the worst thing about your job?" She said "Talking to passengers."

Being the masochist that I am, I asked What's the best thing?" She said "Days off."

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I used to look forward to flying; it was an enjoyable treat.

Now, I avoid flying if at all possible. Paid extra on the last cross-country trip, for a few inches of extra leg room, and it helped a lot. Very expensive, though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The only thing you can do here is not fly in crappy planes with no leg room. The plane in the picture looks very good for leg room however. Aggressive business flyers are the worst in my opinion --> since there is little space to begin with they try to gain position and advantage making it worse for everyone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I was flying back to Japan via Paris last month from London. I was feeling sleepy and decided to lean back. The passenger behind me objected, saying that there wasn't enough space. Since it was only a 45 minute flight from London to Paris, I acquiesced. But I remember thinking ''I paid for this seat. What.gives you the right to...''.Passengers on long haul flights have the right to recline as they please. Goddamit.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This how pure greed works. Cram as many as you can into economy class and let them fight for an extra half inch of space. This does not improve business or first class. It just makes them less awful than economy. I have found business class and first better on airlines that treat their economy passengers humanly.

After many years of putting with abuse on a certain US airline I switched to a great Asian Airline. Business class seating one thing. Having flight attendants who behave as friends and not prison guards is heaven.

The kind of violence you are seeing in economy class is not going to go away. It will likely sap the very profits the greedy airlines are trying to raise. Diverted flights are money losers. The worst may yet come.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

By the way, one thing that could actually start increasing legroom in Economy class on international flights (and reduce the reclining seat issue) is the removal of AVOD in-flight entertainment systems on seatbacks. Not only does it save a lot of weight (really important in terms of fuel burn), but it allows for installation of lighter, thinner seats that offer more legroom space between rows.

A number of airlines are starting to do this because they're replacing AVOD systems with high-capacity Wi-Fi setups that allow people carrying tablet computers, small laptop computers and even larger-screen cellphones to enjoy in-flight entertainment. It's a lot cheaper to install Wi-Fi access points throughout the plane than to install AVOD screens for every seat. I wouldn't be surprised if Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways--the ME3 airlines--eventually remove AVOD screens and replace them with in-flight Wi-Fi setups over the next decade.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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