Skift Take

It's always been a hot-button issue aboard planes, but the debate of whether to recline or not to recline your seat resurfaced this past week. Delta's Ed Bastian found himself in the crosshairs of that argument. He was upright with his answer — and apparently in his seat too.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said airline passengers who want to recline their seats should ask the person behind them if it’s okay. He said personally he does not recline his seat.

Bastian’s comments come as the lightning rod debate pitting recliners versus non-recliners on airplanes hit a new fevered pitch this past week when an American Airlines passenger filmed another passenger punching the back of her seat because he was upset she had reclined on a New Orleans to Charlotte, North Carolina, flight.

“The proper thing to do is, if you’re going to recline into somebody, you ask if it’s OK first,” Bastian said on Friday morning on CNBC’s Squawk Box. “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.”

Of course, Delta has been leaning heavily toward the no-recline camp, announcing in April it planned to decrease the pitch of seat recline on some flights by 50 percent. Bastian may also be smart enough to realize where his most loyal customers stand. Skift has reported Delta frequent flyers would opt for less seat recline to allow for more room for their laptops.

As airlines continue to find ways to increase passenger loads, jam-packed passengers increasingly are more hypersensitive to react to issues of personal space. Next stop: social media.

Is leaning back in your airline seat a right or a privilege? Let the debate continue.

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Tags: american airlines, delta air lines

Photo credit: Delta CEO Ed Bastian speaking to Skift Airline Weekly Editor Madhu Unnikrishnan on stage at Skift Global Forum in New York City on September 18, 2019. Bastian stated on CNBC's Squawk Box that airline passengers who want to recline their seat should ask the person behind them if it's OK. Skift

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