Amy Fine wanted to nap on Delta flight 2370, from New York to Palm Beach, Fla., so she laid her head on the tray table. The passenger in front of her wanted to relax with some knitting. She reclined her seat — smacking Fine’s head and sparking an emotional explosion.
The resulting screaming match caused an unscheduled landing in Jacksonville, Fla., the third diversion in nine days caused by passenger fights over shrinking legroom.
My position is that the passengers getting into these fights are doing us all a favor. If this happens a few more times, nobody will ever recline their seat again for fear of causing a flight-diverting temper tantrum. Fear can be a wonderful motivator sometimes.
Of course, there are dynamic effects to be worried about here. If this continues, perhaps airlines will start disabling the recline mechanisms in their seats once and for all. Just not worth the trouble. And once they’ve done that, some bright spark will figure out that they can reduce legroom even more. And then we’ll all be worse off than before. No one will be able to recline and everybody will have their knees jammed into the seat in front of them. Something to look forward to.