Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Decline to Recline: Save the Coach Class Experience

As a frequent flyer, I am following the recent recliner fights with interest. If you are an occasional flyer, you may be oblivious or unconcerned about issues regarding personal space on a plane, because it doesn't really matter to you that much. But when you are a frequent flyer--flying one or more times a week as I define it--little things become personal, and perks make all the difference between a sane and insane experience. You spend so much time in the air you really need things to go smoothly.

I fly often enough that I am frequently upgraded to first class with no extra charge. When this happens, all is great. You have all the room you need and are pampered with drinks and snacks and personal attention from the flight attendant.

But other times I am not upgraded and am stuck in coach class. So I have become expert at trying to make this more workable. Here is what I try to do:

* Get an aisle seat (even though I prefer window) near the front of the plane, so you can get off faster and make your connection on time.
*Get a free emergency exit seat if possible because you get more leg room.
*Take carry-on luggage that will fit under the seat in front of you, so you don't have to put it in an overhead bin, and you have easy access to it during the flight and when you deplane.
*Try to have what you are going to read or work on in your hands as you sit down, so you don't have to dig in your carry-on luggage.
*Wear layers. In first class, you get a blanket, but in coach you have to fend for yourself. Usually it is cold on the plane, but as sure as I wear something heavy, it is unusually warm.  Wearing layers keeps you comfortable no matter what the temperature.
*Try to take a coffee, water, or other drink on with you, so you don't have to wait for the drink service onboard.

But back to perks and reclining. Obviously, people define these perks differently. Recliners think the ability to recline is a perk. I, however, take the opposite stance and feel that being free of recliners is a perk. How to resolve it? I propose that all airlines make it impossible to recline.

Why? First of all, reclining is a joke. Have you ever tried to recline? You get an inch or two at the most, which doesn't give you any measurable space, and has nothing to do with leg room. Second, I often have to work on a plane, and have to use my laptop and/or work folders, and if the person in front of me reclines, it makes it impossible to use my laptop.

So, please decline to recline. But if you must, please ask the person behind you if that is going to be a problem before doing so.  At 30,000 feet, we all need to get along.

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