When it comes to flying, there are no shortage of rules. You need to get to the airport on time, not overfill your bags and make sure you wear your seatbelt when the sign is illuminated. What about your seat though? Once you’re comfy, is it yours to do with as you wish? Is there a certain etiquette that should be adhered to? Or is reclining your seat at will a basic human right? We’ve put together a list of seat-reclining rules that could make life in-flight more pleasurable for everyone.

Don’t Look Back in Anger

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Okay, so you have the right to recline your seat, and you can fling it back without a second’s notice for the person sitting behind you. Maybe it’s worth a little glance back to let them know you’re coming? You may think that the space behind your seat is your territory, but the person behind you may well disagree. While they still might not be over the moon about you taking away a few inches of space, at least they know it’s about to happen. Give them a chance to hold onto their coffee before you swish it into their lap. If you notice that they’re pretty tall, then an extra apologetic, but this is happening anyway, smile could go a long way.

Don’t Be Greedy

Is it possible that there is a middle ground to be had? A compromise could well be the way to avoid an all-out feud. It won’t be possible on all flights, of course, but if your seat has a range of recline levels then maybe don’t take it all the way. If you go half way, you can get a bit comfier while still giving the person behind you a bit more personal space too. Who knows, you might become friends. If you do push it too far be wary of retaliation. Passengers have been known to sneeze on snoozing seat-recliners, accidentally-on-purpose drop food on them and aim their overhead fans at their heads.

Sit Straight While You Eat

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Chances are, if you’ve got an in-flight meal, you’ll be eating at the same time as the person sitting behind you. Now, while you might like lounging around at home eating TV dinners, it’s better for your digestion if you sit up straight. Not only will your food go down better but the poor soul behind you will be able to eat theirs from the tray rather than their lap. Let’s face it, especially on a long flight, the in-flight meal, while not delicious, is something to look forward to. It breaks up the time a little, so take a break from reclining and straighten your act up. Some people even think you should wait until after the meal service before reclining at all; we’re going easy on you here.

Take it Easy

Most coffee-in-lap incidents happen due to seats reclining both unannounced and at speed. If you’re going to lean back then do it slowly. There is no rush after all, if there is one thing you’ve got in abundance on a flight, it’s time. So, take it easy and recline slowly. You’ll be much less likely to get into a fight, and the last thing you want to do is actually hurt someone. Let’s not forget that there could be an infant on a passenger's lap; it’s wise to be careful that you don’t squash anyone. Mind you, if you’ve got a crying baby behind you, chances are you know about it and sleep will be the last thing you’ll be getting.

Remember We’re All Human

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Whatever side of the seat-reclining fence you sit on, it’s worth trying to remember that we’re all human. Ultimately, we all just want to get to our destination in as much comfort as possible. While you might not think twice about reclining your seat, the person behind may well take umbrage. A few words to say you understand but need to recline might help. Likewise, if you’re the one being squashed, it’s maybe worth speaking up and asking for a few moments reprise. Aggressive behavior isn’t the way forward, nor is physically stopping the person in front from reclining for that matter, the last thing you want is your flight being diverted because of a fight over two inches of space.