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Former flight attendant shares best time to recline your plane seat

Jess Hardiman

Published 
| Last updated 

Former flight attendant shares best time to recline your plane seat

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock

Plane travel isn’t usually comfortable at the best of times, but when the person in front of you suddenly lurches their seat backwards into your knees, it’s hard not to see red.

But according to one former flight attendant, it’s okay to recline your seat – though only at a certain point of the flight.

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Plane etiquette is one of the most contentious topics in travel, whether it’s people refusing to swap spots, noisy kids running amok or general bad manners towards staff on board.

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Then, of course, there’s the small matter of seat reclining, which often becomes a silent battle between you and the person in the row in front – especially as one passenger’s laptop recently got completely destroyed after someone did precisely that.

You're often pressed for space at the best of times. Credit: Stela Di/Pixabay
You're often pressed for space at the best of times. Credit: Stela Di/Pixabay

But former flight attendant Caroline Kneitz, 34, believes there's a right way to do it, if you’re going to go for it.

Kneitz, who worked as a flight attendant for Emirates for six years, said the rudest thing is when a passenger 'just reclines without looking to check who is sitting behind them’.

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The ‘politest thing’, however, is to just ‘ask if they mind’ if they’re awake, so just take a quick look to see before you push the seat back.

"Usually they will be fine with it,” Kneitz said.

She also advised how reclining your seat too early into a flight is also a big mistake.

Kneitz recommends waiting for the right moment to do it. Credit: Sabrina Eickhoff/Pixabay
Kneitz recommends waiting for the right moment to do it. Credit: Sabrina Eickhoff/Pixabay
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She said: “I would advise to always wait until after the meal and drinks service.

“The last thing you want to do is abruptly recline and cause food and drink to spill all over the person behind you.

“I have seen this happen before, with spilled red wine being the worst offender.

“Once service has stopped, look behind you and check that the person has finished eating and drinking and check if it's OK to recline.

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"As mentioned, this tactic usually works like a charm.”

Kneitz - originally from the Netherlands and is now based in Dubai - said many people feel uncomfortable to discuss the situation with a stranger, so if you’re feeling a bit shy about it, you can always ask a crew member to ask 'if it's OK for the seat in front of them to go back’.

“From my experience, if the crew step in it prevents an argument from erupting, people usually comply very quickly,” she said.

Topics: Travel, Plane Etiquette

Jess Hardiman
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