Poll: Airplane Passengers Value Courtesy Over Comfort

Posted In: Chicago Tribune (October 15, 2014)

Poll finds air travelers may not be as rude as stories have suggested.  23 percent of fliers say they rarely recline their seats, according to poll.

Airplane passengers are actually more considerate about reclining their seats than might lead you to believe after recent news of onboard spats over infringing personal space, at least according to a recent poll.

Just 18 percent of fliers said they always recline their seat, while 15 percent said they recline frequently, according to a poll of 807 respondents by Chicago-based airport shuttle service Go Airport Express. Twenty-three percent said they rarely recline while and 14 percent never recline, noting the practice as “rude.”

The largest portion of those surveyed, 26 percent, make a judgment call. They said they sometimes recline, depending on whether anyone is sitting behind them or if a passenger would be made uncomfortable.

“Contrary to news stories that portray air travelers as rude, our survey shows that, in most cases, passengers are concerned about the comfort level of others as much as or even more than their own,” said John McCarthy, president of Go Airport Express.

The long-running conflict became news in August when two United Airlines passengers feuding over a reclined a seat forced the airline to make an unscheduled landing at O’Hare. Reports of similar seat-reclining conflicts followed.

How far are passengers reclining? According to the poll, 21 percent said they always recline all the way, 42 percent said they recline part way.

Almost half of the respondents said they always check to see if anyone is sitting in back of them before they recline, and 7 percent said they ask permission from the person behind them.

Contact: By Gregory Karp, Tribune Reporter