91% of people who took part in our survey said short-haul flights should either ban or set times for seat reclining. We also found that of over 1,000 flyers surveyed, 43% even felt that long-haul flights should implement set times when passengers are permitted to recline their seat. Almost a third of those surveyed said a reclined seat had caused them discomfort, and 3% revealed they’d even suffered an injury.
Furthermore, a ban could well be music to the ears of cabin crew with over 60% of international cabin crew surveyed* saying they have been involved in, or witness to, an argument between passengers on the subject of reclined seats.
“The strong support for a change in reclined seat procedures makes sense”, says psychologist Dr. Becky Spelman, Clinical Director at the Private Therapy Clinic in Harley Street. “The effect of people reclining their seat can result in various negative emotions such as anger, stress, anxiety, frustration and upset for the passenger behind them. This emotional impact can result in a whole range of unhelpful behaviours, including air rage.”
"This is partly because there are two general personality types while travelling. There’s the ‘Altruistic Soul’, who is considerate of others, and the ‘Selfish Ego’. The latter of which will look to increase their comfort at the expense of others.”
In fact, our survey found that 70% of selfish egos would not be put off reclining their seat even if the person behind was pregnant while 80% wouldn’t care if the person behind was elderly or frail.
Women aged 18-24 were the most likely to display ‘Altruistic Soul’ tendencies in the survey, while men over the age of 35 were more likely to exhibit ‘Selfish Ego’ characteristics.
While negative emotions could be reduced by a fellow passenger asking permission to recline their seat, the study found that a third of passengers are too worried about the reaction they’d receive, and most people (64%) have never done so.
“With competing ‘Selfish Egos’ and ‘Altruistic Souls’, set times for seat reclining on planes could actually make for an improved experience for passengers” says Dr Spelman.
“Such rules tend to ensure better social cohesion, as people are conditioned to obey boundaries. While these rules place a limit on the personal choice passengers have over their own comfort, people will generally adhere to them, accepting that it is fair. This could lead to a more pleasant flying experience for the majority.”
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