It’s not OK to recline when you’re expressly forbidden to do so.
There aren’t too many issues that generate more heat in economy class airline cabins than this.
Most recently, a passenger was fined over $600 after he became angry and aggressive after the passenger in front of him reclined on a flight from Wellington to Brisbane.
Last year, a device called the Knee Defender, which prevents seats from reclining, came to prominence after another in-flight spat.
Although many airlines either explicitly ban or disallow the use of the device, sales have skyrocketed.
SO, WHEN IS IT OK TO RECLINE YOUR SEAT?
The answer is that a passenger is allowed to hit the recline button except when forbidden to do so.
That includes on take-off and landing, when safety demands upright seats, and meal service, when a reclined seat will cramp the ability of the passenger behind to eat from their tray table.
Some flyers believe they have a right to insist that seats not be reclined until after meal service. Not so according to cabin crew, who enforce the rules.
The price of an airline ticket includes the right to use its recline function. If a passenger wants to ensure that the seat in front will not be reclined, they should buy that seat as well as their own.
One cabin crew member suggested a simple, cost-free solution. When the passenger in front reclines their seat, recline yours. Your own space and comfort are thus restored to where they were before.
It would be polite, however, if every passenger about to recline would turn around and make sure they were not going to ram the knees or laptop of the passenger behind, but that’s probably a lonely hope.