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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Delta CEO says it's 'proper' to ask permission before reclining airline seat

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian isn't one to recline his seat on a plane. But he said for those who do, you should ask permission first.
A Delta Airlines jet sits at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in 2009. (File photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (WTHR) — Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian isn't one to recline his seat on a plane. But he said for those who do, you should ask permission first.

In an interview with CNBC, Bastian said “the proper thing to do is, if you’re going to recline into somebody, you ask if it’s OK first. I never recline, because I don’t think it’s something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me.”

The debate about whether or not you should recline was started earlier this week after an American Airlines passenger filmed a man punching the back of her seat after she leaned back.


People who watched the video and weighed in were divided on the answer to the question: to recline or not to recline?

Here's what some WTHR viewers said in the comments when we posted the original story on Feb. 13.

  • "Seats are too small for the average size people. Don't recline the seat."
  • "Good question. I used to get irritated when the person in front of me reclined their seat. As I thought more about it, they paid for the seat, the seats allow you to recline so, get comfortable."
  • "Clearly they should provide enough room for people recline their seat while providing comfort for other passengers. I am about to fly 3 babies.. I pray I can recline my seat as I will have a lap infant 🤠"
  • "There is so little room on airplanes these days that they should stop offering seats with a recline option."
  • "I’ll make sure I don’t recline too far into his space. I may ask if he is good and adjust accordingly but I’m not asking to recline."
  • "It would appear his seat did not recline, which left him even less room. The problem is on the airline, not on her. The seat reclines and she should be allowed to recline it if she chooses."

According to CNBC, the distance between seats in economy is about 31 inches on average and about 28 inches on some budget airlines.