‘Unethical hack’ for how to respond to plane passengers who recline their seats sparks debate

‘Unethical hack’ for how to respond to plane passengers who recline their seats sparks debate

An “unethical life hack” for how to respond to plane passengers who recline their seats has sparked a debate about plane etiquette.

On his account, TikTok user @thelkshow frequently shares videos that are described as “unethical life hacks”. In a clip posted last month, he addressed one way that airline passengers can respond when aggravated by a traveller in front of them who pushed their seat back.

“When you are on a flight and the person in front of you reclines their seat all the way and leaves you no room,” the text over the video reads. “Turn on the air con[ditioner] above you on full blast and point it at the top of their head.”

The TikTok user captioned the video: “The plane ride is so long when you get one of those people in front of you…#annoyingpassengers.”

As of 12 May, the video has more than 2.4m views, with TikTok users claiming that plane seats shouldn’t recline.

“They should make it so the seats can’t recline anymore when they’re packing us in like sardines,” one wrote, while another added: “Those seats should not recline.”

A third wrote: “Also let’s just discuss something, you aren’t gaining extra room by reclining, you’re taking away the room of the person behind you.”

However, many people disagreed with this take and defended their decision to recline their seats -- especially on long flights.

“Yeah I’m not sitting upright for my 10 hour flight,” one wrote. “The seat reclines for a reason.”

“If my seat reclines…I’m reclining all the way back. Every time,” another commented.

A third agreed: “Seats are meant to recline. Recline your seat or upgrade to an area with more leg room.”


The plane ride is so long when you get one of these people in front of you 🥱 #plane #reclinetheseat #annoyingpassengers

♬ Blicky - Fresh X Reckless

Some people tried to offer alternative solutions. One of which wrote: “Ok but hear me out- EVERYONE should recline, that way everybody is comfy and nobody has less room.”

This isn’t the first time that social media users have shared their opinions about plane seats. In November 2022, a video of a passenger reclining their seat previously sparked a debate about whether the practice is fair or not.

Henry and Mike Budrewicz, known as The Pointer Brothers on TikTok, shared a clip that shows one of them on the plane with his space severely compromised by the passenger in front’s reclined seat.

The text over the video reads: “Five hour flight home. Is this the most reclined seat in the history of aviation?”

In a survey conducted by The Vacationer, 77 per cent of participants said that they thought it was rude for passengers to recline their seats on planes, with nearly 46 per cent of those people saying that they don’t do this practice. Meanwhile, nearly 23 per cent of participants said it was not rude for passengers to fully recline their plane seats.

The Independent’s travel team took part in this debate last year, with deputy editor Lucy Thackray explaining why she supports reclining plane seats.

“I reserve the right to recline; and I don’t think I should have to conduct market research with those around me beforehand,” she explained. “To my mind, this seat function has been designed for passenger comfort during cruising time.”

Meanwhile, The Independent’s travel editor Helen Coffey explained her issues with travellers who recline their seats.

“You start your reclining dominoes, with each seat pushed back to ensure everyone still gets enough space ‒ until you get to the back row,” she wrote. “I’m pretty sure the back row doesn’t have the capacity to recline. So whatever poor sod is stuck there ‒ and I have been that poor sod myself ‒ has no option but to suffer with less space than everyone else.”