Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Reclining Aircraft Seats

The Knee Defender™ is an American product that helps airline passengers protect themselves from reclining seats.

I have often wondered what some passengers would do in an emergency in response to the standard notice Life Vest Under Your Seat, on the back of aircraft seats.

Would the passenger search under the seat that he/she is sitting on or the one in front?

Recently, having pre-booked a seat in row 11 of an Aer Lingus A320 aircraft, I discovered following embarkation that it was the emergency exit row. Bizarrely, there was a notice on the rear of the seat on row 10 in front of me that had the notice: Emergency Exit - This Seat Does Not Recline.

I rarely recline the seat and the passenger in row ten began to recline her seat as I was reading a newspaper. It was of course the seat that carried the warning that the seat did not recline and as my seat didn't recline, I couldn't compensate for the loss of space as my own seatback did not recline.

I pushed my right knee against the seat in front but the passenger complained to the stewardess.

Estimates are that 75% of passenger-passenger altercations involve seat reclining – including a US incident in which a woman was hit in the head by a reclining seat and the subsequent fight between her and the recliner resulted in both women being arrested. And, a study commissioned by the British government (no reference) found that the space between rows typically provided in economy – the same as offered by most US airlines – does not meet significant health and safety concerns, including by failing to provide "enough space for taller passengers to adopt the ‘brace’ position" in case of an emergency landing".

As Jean Paul Sartre said: Hell is other people! Maybe a postscript should be added - supported by the airlines.