I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there’s been a longstanding ethical debate regarding whether or not it’s okay to lean your seat back in an airplane. In that debate, Delta appears to have taken a side, as they announced that they would be restricting the amount their seats recline, hoping to reduce “disputes between passengers,” according to a travel expert.
That travel expert is Scott Mayerowitz, who runs The Points Guy travel blog, where he reports that starting this Saturday, Delta’s fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft will reduce the seat recline in coach from four inches to two, and in first class from five and a half inches to three and a half.
Delta takes pains to point out that this is not an attempt to make more money by cramming more seats on the aircraft. As Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Delta’s director of product and customer experience told Mayerowitz,
“We’re not adding a single seat into the aircraft... It’s really not at all a gateway to reducing your legroom. That is not the intent here. If we were adding seats, or something else, the cynics would be correct. But this is really about more personal space.”
In fact, the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) even went so far as to make an infographic about seat reclining etiquette:
I have to say, I think I’m okay with this. I almost never recline my seat, because I just don’t, well, feel like I’m worth it. Why should I steal some space from the person behind me, moving their seat-back screen to a weird angle, or banging into their laptop? What am I, a sultan? It’s just not worth it, and it never set right with me.
Delta says the change on the A320s is a sort of test, and, pending customer reaction and feedback, they’ll decide whether or not to expand the change to their entire domestic fleet. International flights are not planned to be affected.