In our recent “How We Travel Now” series, I compared the experiences of flying various low-cost airlines, objectively noting that Spirit Airlines’ sardine-can seats did not recline, while Sun Country’s more plush seats did.
And man, did readers let me have it.
“I rarely recline my seat as a courtesy to the passenger behind me,” read one comment. “I’m only 5’5 and when the passenger in front of me reclines, it’s impossible to work and really uncomfortable.”
Another: “My guess is that the author is on the shorter side ... I never, ever recline my seat. I just think it’s rude to do that to the person behind you.”
Ha ha, I’m 6 feet on a good day, thank you, and yes, Spirit Airlines was tight for me.
“With reduced space and seat sizes don’t you think you could pass on reclining your seat?” e-mailed Phillip Benson. “I know the people sitting behind you would really appreciate this kind and CONSIDERATE gesture.”
OK, I get it: We Minnesotans are just too nice to recline.
It’s good news, then, that Delta Air Lines, home of the “Comfort+” cabin, announced it is reducing the recline from 4 to 2 inches on its Airbus A320s, and from 5.4 to 3.5 inches in first class. Delta says this is to “minimize disruptions to multi-tasking,” which may be code for “cramming more passengers on the plane.” Meanwhile, Sun Country’s new cabin overhaul features seats ranging from 2 to 5 inches of recline, depending on what you paid.
Reclining helps me sleep, but I remember getting the evil eye for it even as a big kid. I suspect we are talking about this now because airlines have been slowly shrinking the pitch between seats, making our headroom even more precious.
Since Delta’s amenities (and fares) seem aimed at the laptop-toting business traveler, Delta should go ahead and reduce the recline. But I’m glad the likes of Sun Country, meant for the leisure traveler, will also continue to give us the choice to ease the seat back an inch. Or two.
Simon Peter Groebner is the editor for Midwest Traveler. Follow him on Instagram at @simonpeter6.