The battle over space in airline coach cabins just turned into a real-life battle. We all read with about the passenger who attached a “knee defender” onto the seat of the passenger in front of him to prevent her from reclining her seat. Bingo. She tries to recline, can’t, gets upset, guy behind her says too bad I want my own space, and she throws a cup of water on him. Result: the plane is diverted from its intended destination, and both unruly passengers are removed.
End of story. Almost.
The tale of revenge or rudeness, depnding on your viewpoint, has stirred quite a commotion. Social media folks are declaiming opinions, pro and con. The airlines have no specific rules against using a knee defender, but the in-air regulations that nothing be done that might interfere with the flight can be used in this case. As for the passenger who tossed the water, well, technically that’s an assault, and that’s seldom the right thing.
I’m sympathetic. I’ve had that middle seat and found myself inhumanly squeezed when the passenger in front of me fully reclined the seat. It’s awful. And while you may consider the person who wishes to recline to be thoughtless of others — correct on that count — they paid for their seat, and it relines, so they are quite entitled.
So who’s really to blame here? It’s as plain as the water dripping down your shirt: the airlines. Who is it that created the sub-human seating plan in coach these days? Who deliberately shrank the size and space for passengers in order to cram more seats and paying customers on each flight? And who is using the crowding to try and persuade more passengers to pay more money for slightly larger (but still uncomfortable) seats?
If you’re a coach class passenger — and by the way, you’re paying about 25% more than you used to four years ago to get the lowest fares four years ago. And that doesn’t include the myriad extra fees that have helped to raise airline profits to new heights (and allowed them to improve first class and business class seating at the expense of coach passengers).
To put it pleasantly, the airlines are finding new ways to screw coach class passengers. The airlines are not your friends, as I’ve been saying for years. It’s difficult to be charitable about corporate entities so disdainful of a large segment of their customers.