What’s your terrible in-flight recliner story?
I have a fairy mixed opinion on reclining seats on airlines. While I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to recline your seat, nor does it make you an evil person, it should be done as a conversation with the person behind you. A simple, hello, and a quick question asking how much the person behind wouldn’t mind me putting back the seat is simple, friendly, and courteous conversation.
What doesn’t rest well with me (pun intended) is pushing that button and slamming back, with no consideration to your leg room, or any drinks you might have on the tray. I’m fairly sure it’s a mechanism for detecting particularly despicable human beings.
This story is takes place last week as I on a night flight from JFC to the UK. It’s a battle between me and the person in front over a minor unspoken battle over my own personal space. The setting is an economy-class flight with Thomas Cook airlines, setting off from JFK at 10pm, landing in the UK in the morning. The antagonist? A short lady in her 30’s dressed in what appears to be uncomfortable banded clothing (for a long hall flight who the hell does that?).
The story starts 30 minutes after take-off. I’ve taken the most comfortable position one can take on a night flight while stuck in the middle of an aircraft. Hoody wrapped up on the tray in front of me, on top of that my trusty travel pillow. It’ makes my own personal fortress of sleep. I drift-off.
And then it began.
Stage one: Is this seat broken?
I wake up to the lady head of me complaining that the seat isn’t reclining properly while repeatly bashing the back of the entertainment system screen into my head. “It just isn’t going back as far as that mans!” I hear. No shit women, that’s because the laws of intuition would tell you that two objects can’t occupy the same space. You would have known that if you’d bothered to look around or ask. For the fourth or so time, I detected her seat had moved forward once again like a battering ram ready to once again beat the shit out of my skull.
Being somewhat irked at being woken up I decided that this was war.
I positioned by head right against the back of her seat the next time her seat was fully upright, so she couldn’t gain the momentum needed to smack me in the head. A few fruitless attempts on her end, and the attempts stopped. she must have looked behind her seat to see me (pretending at this point) sleeping on the tray. I heard a slow long sigh.
Stage two: After snack, get ready, go
The next time I awoke was for the in-flight snack. Proof that I can be awoken without the threat of war on condition that the airhostess provides a suitable offering. A sandwich with cucumber and a slice of American cheese. It wasn’t totally pleasant, but not an unwelcome mid-sleep snack. I quickly realised mid-munch that this banquet had left the forward position undefended. I munched down the cucumber and cheese sandwich and redefended my place. A while later I was right in my suspicion. The she had attempted to slam the seat back again, with quite a bit of vigour. But my previous head-in-the-way solution proved its effectiveness once again. “Fucks sake” I hear.
Once again, I slept.
Stage Three: Salami Tactics
I had awoken up once again. This time to the realisation that he seat had been reclined quite a few inches without me noticing. I wondered how this could happen?! Her previous tactic of slamming the seat back would have woken me up. However, I thought to myself, it was only a few inches, it wasn’t an attempt at full blown seat reclamation. I tried to return to slumber.
But then I noticed. This was not a permanent state of affairs. Every few minutes the seat would inch back. This motherfucker had gone to the school of orthodox communist leader Mátyás Rákosi himself. She was attempting to slowly, inch by inch, take what she thought was rightfully hers in a way that hides her true motives, all without me realising.
But I had realised.
I lay await. Waiting until I detected that ever reminiscent click that came before the invasion. I’m not your Ukraine, Russia. I fight back. The click came, I moved quickly, pushing the chairs back forward to an acceptable level. It became the end scene in the Cell Saga fight between Gohan and Cell. The more force I pushed forward, the more she force she put leaning back. Unfortunately for her in these type of battles of strength, small scrawny people don’t often win. I had pushed her forward enough to regain my comfort.
She’d lost this battle. I won my sleep.
Stage Four: Stage two returns for the in-flight breakfast.
I’ve always wondered, who asks for a Vegan meal without pre-booking it? And why would that same person, upon not liking the sound of the alternative vegetarian meal then opt for a Bacon sandwich? This is when I decided the person in-front deserved this war.
The breakfast was wholly unsatisfactory. Some brand called James Martin, it seems to be based on a Jamie Oliver copy-cat. Quite frankly, If I was James Martin, I’d be embarrassed for him. I wondered if this Scrambled egg had ever seen a chicken in its life. I poked it for a while before passing ‘breakfast’ into the bin and returned to my previous position.
Sometime after I heard the tale-tail aforementioned click. She’d tried her old trick seen in the previous episode of stage two. Failing this, she once again attempted her old “slam the seat down a few times” to no avail in what appeared to be frustration. I wanted to tell her she’d done this to herself. But then she’d probably feel that she’s been publicly attacked and go on the defensive
For the rest of the flight her seat remained upright. Although she did give me a very filthy look at the end of the flight.
Could I have handled it better? Yes. Could have tapped on her shoulder and said ““I’m not sure if you’re aware or not, but your seat is pushed on me. Would you mind moving forward just a bit?”. I could have. But I was sleepy, angry, and someone had slammed their chair into my head. I wasn’t going to return courtesy that wasn’t given to me in the first place.