Jeanette Sekan
Jeanette Sekan
By Jeanette Sekan
The Cody (Wyo.) Enterprise
HCP columnist


In perusing news stories that aren’t important enough to make the top of the hour or top of the fold, I ran across a story that has become the subject of much discussion.

Apparently, there are passionate views expressed on both sides. It always amazes me what incident becomes of national debate, which in any other time would never make it past the involved participants.

As an occasional and often now reluctant air traveler, I noticed a situation arose when there was a squabble about someone reclining their seat.

Ah, the quintessential question: to recline or not to recline. It is a quandary. I personally could stand and debate both sides with equal fervor. However, in the cool light of day, I think everyone is misplacing their collective outrage.

The focus seems to be on the recliner as well as the behavior of the person with the seatback in the knees and face. In this case, the recliner was asked to wait while the person behind finished dinner, and the request was accommodated. Upon said completion, the recliner reclined. This prompted the person at the rear to begin pounding the seatback.

The recliner took exception, began filming the offending behavior on their cellphone and the rest is social media history. Sides have been taken, quarters drawn, and the debate begun.

Which party was in the wrong? However, nowhere have I heard (and it doesn’t mean it hasn’t been discussed) outrage about the decisions of the airlines to continue to place return on investment per square foot over the bare minimum standard of comfort for their customer.

Anyone who has been on a plane recently knows the inherent problems. The seats cannot adequately fit a small adolescent, much less an adult of average or even slightly over-average height. If you are one pound overweight, your arms and behind will infringe on others’ spaces. If you are taller than average or have longer than average legs, be prepared to know what it feels like to temporarily be a sardine. To use the tray table for anything means it literally is in your lap.

Those with any claustrophobic issues are in trouble. You really can’t eat anything with any degree of comfort with the tray table down. Add a reclined seat – well, you get the picture.

For the record, I am not a recliner. I have been the recipient of a reclined seat in front of me, and it isn’t pleasant. I am one with extra long legs, and sadly, at least a pound overweight. I also have the various joint and other issues that come with, uh, maturity. Plus, like most, I don’t like being cramped.

Fortunately, the encounters when I’ve requested the recliner to adjust have been OK. So, in order to think about someone else first for a little while (which I guess is quite uncommon these days), I choose not to recline.

Air travel is one area where the great unwashed all deal with the exact same problems. When we take a moment to realize that, we may choose to adjust our behaviors a bit, for our own selfish interests.