Personal space is at a premium for passengers on flights, especially in economy class. While many will debate whether or not passengers should recline in their seats, the fact is seats recline and are intended to recline (on most planes). Yes, there is proper etiquette for reclining your seat, namely … do it slowly … and if you feel yourself crushing the person behind you … stop.
My etiquette pet peeve regarding reclining seats (although I do have a pet peeve for those who slam their seat back as hard and fast as they can) is people who constantly rock in their seat, especially when it is reclined.
Economy airline seats do not recline very much, and a passenger constantly rocking their seat as hard as possible will only move the seat a little further back for a fraction of a second. Since rocking repeatedly and aggressively in a seat does nothing to further a passenger’s comfort I have yet to understand why some passengers persist in causing the person behind them significant discomfort.
Using an airplane seat as a rocking chair not only irritates the passenger behind you, but very often it causes them pain as the seat slams into their knees and runs the risk of potentially damaging their laptop … should they have one open.
If you find yourself rocking in your airline seat, or pushing your seat into recline rapidly, and feel the resistance of someone’s handing stopping your seat do not push harder … stop … then maybe recline slower and/or realize your rocking may be physically hurting the person behind you.
Airplanes are a confined environment that passengers can’t escape and its an environment that can breeds flaring tempers … especially on long flights … so be courteous and remember what your Mom taught you as a young child … “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
Below is a photo of my knees being slammed by a passenger who seemed to think their seat was a rocking chair.