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WATCH: Man Punches Woman’s Seat After She Reclines on Flight

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


A woman who reclined her seat during an American Eagle flight last month claims she was assaulted after the man behind her repeatedly “punched” her seat.

Take a look:

The incident purportedly started after Twitter user “Wendi” reclined her seat — much to the chagrin of the passenger behind her.

He allegedly asked if she’d raise her seat while he ate. She says she complied with his request. But after he was done eating, she reclined again.

She claims this is how the flight attendant responded:


Wendi tweeted plans asking the feds for their help pressing charges.

According to FlightAware data, the flight — Republic Airways 4392 — departed a half hour late. Just surmising here — but perhaps some people were already a little edgy or irritated because of the delay?

The Daily Mail writes:

A spokesperson for American Airlines said: ‘We are aware of a customer dispute that transpired on American Eagle flight 4392, operated by Republic Airways, on January 31.

‘The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority, and our team is looking into the issue.’

Sit Back: Here’s My Take

Something tells me we might not be hearing the full story.

If Wendi received a Passenger Disturbance Notice, she most likely did something to really earn it. That or the flight attendant in question needs some retraining.

As for the guy behind Wendi? Dude needs to take a chill pill.

Now, it’s entirely possible he politely asked her to raise her seat again. That part may or may not be missing from the narrative.

But repeatedly pushing her seat is obnoxious. And the punching part seems a little, oh, I don’t know — crazy?

News flash: flights divert for unruly behavior. Even if this Wendi were in the wrong somehow, repeatedly striking her seat isn’t right, either.

The amateur Rocky Balboa was busy watching something on his cell phone while amping up his attacks on the woman’s seat. If his entertainment were so engrossing, couldn’t he just calm down and concentrate on that? (Apparently not.)

I See Both Sides

I hate when people fully recline their seats. The reason I originally pursued elite status is that I’m about 6’1″ — and standard coach seats are already tight for anyone of average height. So I got Silver Medallion status just to book exit rows and ensure good legroom. (Then down the status rabbit hole I went 😉 ).

But here’s the thing: I understand people have a right to recline their seat.

Now, I think there’s a right and wrong way to do it. I can’t stand ignoramuses who SLAM their seats back. That’s rude. The only time this happens to me is when I’m in domestic first class. (And when I leave my seat, I might have to pull on their seat back to help me stand up or accidentally push their seat back with my shoulder to get something near my feet. Oops.)

For people who are considerate, though — meh, what can you do?

(FWIW, the only time I fully recline my seat is when there’s plenty of room behind me — i.e. the first row of C+ — or no one occupying the seat behind mine.)

What Do You Think?

Who was in the wrong here? The male? The female? Both? Neither?

— Chris

H/T: Daily Mail via Flipboard

Featured image: ©iStock.com/Boarding1Now

 

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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28 Comments

  1. There is NO reason to punch the back of her seat either softly multiple times which we can see on the video or hard which we can’t. I know things can be seen from both sides and I’ve been seated behind plenty of people who recline their seats in a rude manner but I have never punched or tapped a seat in retaliation. So, going by the video first and the story second, this guy is at fault. And honestly, its her seat to recline so even if she was horrible about it, she can totally do that!

  2. lol i bet you anything karen is only telling half the story. and that’s what you get for reclining on a E175 on a 90 minute flight. what that guy is doing to her seat is absolutely hilarious to me.

  3. I loathe to judge a case without hearing the full facts.

    I do want to say, average height of US population is just 5’9″. It may be unfortunate for tall people, but its fine for most, 😀

  4. PolishKnight

    My story.

    About 4 years ago, flew Lufthansa from MUC -> IAD. An ire elderly German woman screamed at the top of her lungs when I tried to (slowly) recline my seat. I quickly raised it. I’ll confess, I then tried to sneakily recline later to go to sleep and she then kicked my seat violently and screamed as if she was dying. I quickly put my seat back up and kept it there.

    Perhaps she had a mental disorder or truly was so disabled that perhaps she has knees that are highly sensitive to pressure. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Note that I also didn’t keep the seat pushed back. After all, I didn’t die from having sleep in an upright position for 7 hours. So I wonder if the gal who videotaped the guy videod him punching her seat even though she could have put it back upright OR was the guy still punching the seat AFTER she put it back up?

  5. Total [jerk] move by that guy. There is no way that guy does that if it’s a man in the seat in front of him. If someone does that to me and won’t stop the flight will be diverting. Doesn’t matter if we haven’t heard the whole story. The seat reclines and if you don’t like it book row 1. Flying with my father tonight and we are row 1. Not my choice but that’s what he likes as he despises people reclining into him.

  6. i am 6’1’…i never recline my seat, because i always understand how tight it is on an airplane…i barely fit in an airline seat; that said, the person in front of me is allowed to recline their seat if they like…and if it interferes with me, as in, when i am eating, i will kindly request that they put their seat back up until after i finish eating (this all sounds familiar, doesnt it?)
    but to punch the back of someone’s seat? a passenger is entitled to recline their seat; it is, for that period of time …THEIR seat !. and how dare anyone ever tell anyone they cannot reliance, or protest…or punch the back of the seat???
    this man has anger issues
    i do have a solution to all of this
    airlines stop making seat backs that recline !
    half the people hate it when someone reclines into their space; the other half are obnoxious when they recline…and a third half (?) just dont really care
    if a seat cannot recline…no issues …how easy was that?

  7. ColoradoTraveller

    My worst flight ever was when the passenger in front of me flung his seat back before the plane had even left the runway.

    Then, this guy spends the ENTIRE flight hunched forward and never even made contact with his seat back!

    It was bizarre, but this passenger COULD recline his seat, so by gosh he was going to!

  8. vbscript2

    Personally, I’d say all three are at fault: the guy, the lady, and the FA.

    1) No, there is no “law” against videotaping in flight. There is absolutely no such law or regulation. FAs need to stop making up “laws.” If the FA really said that, they need some retraining.

    2) Reclining your seat in economy on a short, daytime flight when there’s a row behind you is a jerkish thing to do. Don’t do that.

    3) Hitting the seat in front of you is also a jerkish thing to do. Don’t do that, either.

    4) The FBI is going to laugh at her. And, no, this is not “assault” per federal definitions. He’s not attempting to hit or or to do anything that a reasonable person would expect to cause harm to her. If anything, reclining your seat back onto a tall person in economy is much more reasonably likely to cause harm than what he’s doing.

  9. Dear airlines,
    Wouldn’t it be cheaper for you, if you bought seats that didn’t recline?
    I LOVE that enhancement to the flight experience. Please make it happen.

  10. I’m pretty sure we don’t have the full story.
    “Karen” should be pretty aware that his seat is abutted against a wall and does not recline. He also does not look petite.

    His tapping of the seat is unwarranted, but if you push someone hard enough, they are going to push back.

    Also, if a meal was being served prior, why was her seat reclined? She said herself that he had to ask her to put it back up during meal service. He should not haved had to ask.

    Which leads me to the conclusion: She is one of those privileged SOBs who thinks she should recline just because the chair can.

    Ugh.

  11. Jennifer

    I think reclining is nice though rarely do so on short flights. Ever been put beside someone with really wide shoulders and been forced to sit leaning into the isle for 3 hours? I have. It’s miserable. My back hurt for 2 days. I didn’t punch him. Infact I tried to be understanding. He probably really should have purchased 2 seats or comfort plus… If my seat had reclined allowing me an inch of room to sit more comfortably I would have.
    If you are tall and need more legroom book your seat accordingly. It may cost extra but that’s the price of being tall. This is not private transport. You cannot expect everyone to behave how you prefer. People get bent over someone reclining because they are “entitled” but the truth is you expecting them not to recline a seat they paid for is also acting entitled. Saying they shouldn’t make seats that recline is one sided. “We don’t like when people decline, but they love to recline, so since we don’t like it and some people don’t care you should just stop it!” Why should they change the seats? That would cost the airline money and you are already to cheap to even buy an upgraded seat…

  12. Molly Peterson

    Isnt the back of the seat where his tray table attached part of his space. If he chooses to punch any part of his space at any time during the flight, then let him get his workout in. I think he should have headbutted it.

  13. Reclining a seat is never OK. This [person] should be banned from all air travel.

  14. Mike Breen

    Never, ever recline your seat. It’s flat out rude in such a tight space.

  15. Randall M

    Kind of hard to care about the comfort of a woman who clearly could care less she was making someone else uncomfortable. Wendi wants what she doesn’t give.

  16. What the What?

    I’m wondering if I read the same article as some of the commenters?
    It is truly in the comments section that you see how horrible people are – I am ashamed for so many of you!
    Facts:
    1) When an airline sells you a seat that reclines, it is yours to recline. Any time, whether you”need to” or not. For the entirety of the flight or not. Daytime or night time, Period.
    2) The airline sells seats with more room. Buy in Premium Economy or Comfort Class or whatever they call it. If you need more space, you have options, vote with your wallet.
    3) Spirit seats don’t recline. They suck. Do we really want the industry to move to seats like this? Ugh.
    4) Hitting someone’s person or an extension of their person is wrong. Always, everywhere. We all learned this in kindergarten. If you don’t like the way someone is driving, do you run into their bumper? (As much as you’d like to?) No, When you’re in the grocery store, do you slam someone’s cart because “they don’t need a cart, they only have two items in there.” Don’t be daft.

    The idea that this woman is “an entitled SOB” because she is using the seat for which she paid in the way it was designed is insane.
    Shame on all you who suggested otherwise.

  17. stogieguy7

    I applaud the guy for doing that which I have wanted to do many times myself to the selfish jerk in front of me. This is a 90 minute flight on a regional jet! What kind of self absorbed narcissistic [redacted] feels the necessity to slam her seat back repeatedly during such a short flight? Someone who’s asking for trouble, that’s who.

    No sympathy for her. And if she thinks that is assault, she needs to get out more.

  18. Lets stop with these posts already. It is getting quiet boring.

    Airlines put the seat to recline for passengers to recline. Only time FA asks not to is during meals and takeoff/landing.

    If you need the space pay the upgrade. If you dont like to recline then thats on you.

  19. I think the guy punching the seat was over the top!!
    No one likes when the persof in front of you ends up in your lap! It is hard to watch tv so close too

  20. If you need more leg room upgrade your seat. Stop expecting everyone else to cater to you. What if she had back issues and the recline takes pressure off her back?! Is that less important than your knees?
    Those of you justifying his actions make me sick.

  21. The solution is a seat that slides forward as it reclines. Then instead of encroaching on a fellow passenger’s space, you reconfigure your own space to suit yourself.

    You can decide to sit more upright with added legroom or recline with reduced legroom.

  22. PolishKnight

    “Jmg 2 days ago
    Reclining a seat is never OK. This [person] should be banned from all air travel.”

    It’s useful to reflect upon a economic/sociological belief where decreased norms require exceptional improvements in manners.

    Logically, people who are put into tighter spaces should then just behave in a more mannered way in order to get through it, right?

    But that’s laughably illogical out in the real world. Take away amenities from people and instead of trying to “grin and bear it”, they’ll become even more rude and intolerant.

    If the average air flyer is going to be poorer in order to cram them into smaller spaces, they’re not going to behave like someone from the past who would have shown up in a suit and tie and held open doors.

    Consequently, compared to the golden era of flying, economy class is so full of people with the typical flier that you don’t think should fly at all, FA’s are less like amenity providers and more like air wardens.

    If you don’t like it, pay for the profits for the CEO of the airline and double a ticket to fly in plus or business. Can’t afford it? Then just shut up and get used to the guy reclining in front of you.

    Because those days will seem like a paradise compared to when they get rid of whatever dignity is left. I can’t think of something because I’m afraid if I state it, they’ll do just that? Make us pay for air?

  23. Melanie

    C’mon people, these comments are nuts! The guy punching her seat is a loser! When did we lose our civilized society! Big man harasses middle aged woman! Wow, wonder what lucky woman is married to that thing! I would love to see him do that to a man! Obviously the guy was big, then its up to him to pay more for comfort, but probably to cheap or can’t afford it! Why I choose to drive. However, there may be a time when I will need to fly for a long distance and believe me I will fly first class! Unfortunately a lot of scummy people out there. I remember the days when people had class and respect!

  24. JON BRAND

    TOO BAD SHE NOT TURN & STAB CREEP IN THE NECK.

  25. What a jerk! So childish! I hope she sues him for harassment or something. American Eagle should have given him a warning that he would never be allowed to book another flight with them if he ever harassed another customer. If it’s not okay to recline your seat then that option needs to removed from the function of the seat. It’s there for a reason.

  26. The people who defend this d-bags retaliation are completely clueless, and they are at the heart of what is wrong with our society. Violence isn’t an acceptable response to anyone’s perceived inconsideration. The only time that violence is acceptable is to defend yourself from violence. She had every right to recline her seat if she chooses to. He had absolutely no right to do anything besides politely asking her to raise her seat, or just ignore it, like an adult. Why shouldnt he be allowed to punch the seat in front of him? Because that’s not how people are supposed act in a civilized society. I hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest…and after that his mother should teach him some manners.

  27. Evolved human

    The people who defend this d-bags retaliation are completely clueless, and they are at the heart of what is wrong with our society. Violence isn’t an acceptable response to anyone’s perceived inconsideration. The only time that violence is acceptable is to defend yourself from violence. She had every right to recline her seat if she chooses to. He had absolutely no right to do anything besides politely asking her to raise her seat, or just ignore it, like an adult. Why shouldnt he be allowed to punch the seat in front of him? Because that’s not how people are supposed act in a civilized society. I hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest…and after that his mother should teach him some manners.

    Btw, the author of this article is a childish little man too for “accidentally”pushing or pulling the reclined seat in front of him. Grow tfu.

    The the idea that Kevin suggests in his comment sounds like a very logical solution…if you want to recline then you decrease your own leg room, not the person’s behind you. That is brilliant.

  28. Two sides to every story, I of ccourse, but the truth usually falls somewhere between the two.
    Airline seats are small, cramped, uncomfortable and expensive. You oay for a very limited space INCLUDING the full amount your seat can recline. If the airlines don’t want their customers to have this feature they could remove it. But it’s there and you paid to use iit. The woman was FULLY within her rights and prerogatives to recline her seat as much and for as long as she wished. If the man behind her had a problem with it, HE has a right to ask to have a reassigned seat…no right to disturb and distress the woman with violent behavior.

    In a more perfect world the man could have very politely asked the woman ig she could please recline less and identified his problem so the woman might be more understanding.

    If SHE was being a self righteous [removed] and he was being an arrogant, entitled [removed], shame on BOTH of them for their lack of empathy or even civility.

    Were all stuck with each other as fellow passengers on spaceship earth….shouldn’t we figure out how to get along?

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