Delta CEO Ed Bastian appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Friday to discuss what he deemed an etiquette issue. While he conceded that “customers have the right to recline,” he said, “the proper thing to do is, if you’re going to recline into somebody, that you ask if it’s okay first.”
He continued, “If someone knows there’s a tall person behind them and they want to recline their seat, I think the polite thing would be to make certain it’s okay.”
What Bastian posited as Delta’s solution to the issue is to create seats with a reduced recline. Apparently, a good number of the airline’s fleet already has reduced recline. He also added that he never puts his seat back. “Since I’m the CEO of the airline, I [shouldn’t] be reclining my seat. And I never say anything if someone reclines into me.”
The rebuttal is that airlines redesign their planes to make sure that there’s more space so passengers can recline without intruding on the people behind them.
Of course, some on Twitter were not too pleased with Bastian’s viewpoint.
Earlier this week, an American Airlines passenger, Wendi Williams claimed she was assaulted after the man behind her kept punching the back of her seat after she reclined. It appears as if the man didn't have much space and was in the last row of the plane.
When she first put her seat back, the man asked if she could return her seat to the upright position so he could have room to eat. She accommodated him—then once she saw that he'd finished eating, she reclined her seat again. He then “started hammering away at me,” she said.
The incident has been divisive, with some people sympathizing with Williams’ experience, while others criticize her for being so insensitive.