September 18, 2008

For My Fellow Passenger

This is a special shout-out to the guy who sat in seat 32B on United Flight 132 from San Francisco to Chicago O'Hare on September 17, 2008. You know who you are. Thanks to United Airlines' policy of overbooking every flight, our flight was overbooked. That means that there's going to be someone sitting behind you who has to live with your behavior.

I know that you said you "had" to have you seat fully reclined for the whole flight so you could read "Hot Rod" magazine. After all, it's a cramped ride. Two things to keep in mind.

All those people working on their laptop computers? I wasn't one of them. Your seat reclined to the point that I had to hold the computer at a ridiculous angle, balancing it on my nipples and the ever-shifting back of your seat. Since a laptop computer requires that the monitor be opened to at least a right angle, and preferably an oblique angle, for the screen to be visible, you denied me the ability to get any work done. In my case, that would have been writing a final exam for my business law class, but that's hardly the point.

All those people reading books? Nope, not me, either. Your insistence on fully-reclining the seat required me to go through the entire flight with your seat back in my face. This left me a small triangle of personal space with about two inches between my nose and the back of your head.

That movie you watched? I hope you enjoyed it. I did not have the opportunity to watch a movie, myself. Since your seat back was all the way down, I couldn't see a thing on my monitor.

Oh, and ease the seat back next time. When you threw it back with all your force, to its fully-reclined position, the instant you heard a "beep" after takeoff, you managed to bounce the magazine I was reading on its spine with enough power that it bonked me in the nose.

But all I really wanted was as much space as nearly every other passenger on the airplane had to actually do something during the flight. I say "nearly" every other passenger because somehow, my wife (who was sitting across the aisle and not next to me, thanks for that, United) also got the only other guy on the 140-seat flight who managed to find the "11" setting on the recline button.

Me, I would have appreciated a glance back, like I gave to the passenger behind me, to see if everything was good. I wasn't going to tell you not to recline. Just leave me enough room to open up the laptop.

If I seemed a little bit cranky, well, blame United Airlines for that. I had originally tried to book a flight that left my home town at 9:00 a.m. But they rescheduled it for 6:00 a.m. which meant my wife and I had to get up at three in the morning, and that's a little earlier than we're used to. They get to change the time of the flight because they own the plane and I don't. (If I wanted to reschedule the flight, I would have to pay $700 in fees.) Now, that's not on you, but it is the sort of thing you have to be prepared to deal with on an airplane flight.

And the way you deal with that is to have the courtesy to not throw your seat back into someone else's face for two and a half hours.


bobvis said...

Sorry to hear of your ordeal.

That happened to a project manager of mine when she had a bad cold. Eventually she accidentally (she swears) sneezed right onto his bald head. No more reclining.

Michael Reynolds said...

I applaud your ability to write that post without recourse to the F word. I couldn't have done it.

Sheila Tone said...

United must have a lot better seats than I'm used to. My perception of "reclining" airplane seats is, they go back about an inch.

Are you sure this isn't a "Prince and the Pea" thing, TL? ;)

Burt Likko said...

Well, my seat only reclined about an inch. The guy in front of me had his seat go back about a foot. Why the disparity between the two seats, I don't know.

DaveBuck said...

As a lawyer, you'll love how this regular Joe got back at Delta for using the 'flight canceled due to weather' excuse to liberally.