Is it rude to recline your seat?

Is it rude to recline your seat?

Flight attendants explain how to rest on a plane - without disrupting neighbours.

Envision this scenario: You're sitting on a plane, settling in for an hours-long redeye. You're ready to lean back and pass out.

You try to recline your seat, but - it won't budge. What gives?

You're not sitting in or near an emergency exit row, so it should function normally. Your seat isn't broken, either. You turn around and see the problem.

The passenger sitting directly behind is using a product that prevents your seat from reclining: a pair of plastic brackets, each the size of a miniature stapler, that lock tray table arms in place.

That allows the person behind you to, say, eat a meal or use a laptop on the tray table worry-free, preventing your seat from reclining - and roadblocking your beauty sleep.

What to you do?

The answer isn't always pretty. In 2014, a United Airlines jet flying from Newark, New Jersey to Denver, Colorado was diverted due to a disturbance between two passengers.

One passenger was using a Knee Defender, one of those very gadgets that stops the traveller in front from reclining their seat.

The row resulted in the hopeful seat recliner throwing a drink in the man's face, the plane diverting to Chicago, where the trouble-makers were promptly booted from the aircraft. (For what it's worth, Knee Defender sales skyrocketed after the incident made international headlines.)

But plenty of feuds flare up between passengers over reclined seats, with or without controversial plastic devices.

When is reclining your seat rude?

"Passengers get very heated over the recline-or-not-to-recline topic," says Betty Thesky, flight attendant and host of the aviation-themed podcast Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase.

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