Here’s a quick reminder for those of you who haven’t checked in with the realities of air travel in a while: airplane seats are designed to recline. I’m not saying that means you should recline or that it’s the ethical thing to do (personally, I don’t) but they can and people do and it’s just how it is. It’s not that big a deal. What is a big deal is acting like a petulant little jackass like the fucko in this now-viral video, though, to be fair, reaction to the video is remarkably mixed.
Here’s the basic facts you need to know: the video was shot by Wendi Williams, a woman flying on a two-hour flight from New Orleans to Charlotte, in seat 20D, one row before the last, on American Airlines flight AA4393. She reclined her seat, an act which displaces one’s seat two inches rearward on American Airlines aircraft.
The passenger behind her, who was in the last row on the plane and as a result had a seat that couldn’t recline, was displeased with his fate and expressed that displeasure like this:
Yes, that’s an adult human continuously punch-shaking the headrest of the seat in front of him, like a toddler jacked up on Pixi Stix and unearned rage.
According to Williams, the passenger behind her punched the seat with more force about nine times prior to the video, when he switched to the more constant, lower-impact punch solution demonstrated in the tweet.
When Williams reached out to a flight attendant, Williams reports that the flight attendant reprimanded her, and offered the rear passenger some complimentary rum, a pirate’s beverage of choice.
The responses to the video have been very divided and contentious; many people are calling out Williams for the very act of reclining her seat, and implying that therein lies the real issue here.
It seems Williams and the passenger did have some sort of exchange about reclining, where she put her seat upright while he ate, then returned to reclining afterwards. The punching seems to have begun after the seat was reclined post-exchange.
Now, while I don’t necessarily feel that what the dollar-store-Shel Silverstein-looking dude is doing rises to the level of assault, it also does not rise to the level of normal adult behavior.
Sure, it sucks to be crammed into that last seat, and sure, the world may be a bit better if nobody reclined their seats, but come on. It’s a two hour flight; the guy’s just watching a movie on his phone, not trying to assemble a working model of a flat-six engine on his tray table there. He’s fine.
Any decent human would have asked the person in front not to recline, and if they still did, well, take the free rum and somehow live through the nightmare of sitting somewhat cramped with a free cocktail for two hours while flying through the air like a majestic albatross.
What they would not do is punch the seat, over and over, like some fool with Pamper’s-girded loins.
Many are arguing that Williams is being over-dramatic, or seeking a payoff, or any number of other reprehensible behaviors, but the fact is only one person in this mess was repeatedly and fecklessly punching a seat because they didn’t like the realities of modern air travel.
There are so many better ways to handle this: ask someone if they’ll swap seats, volunteer for an exit row, complain and get your free cocktail, lament the state of airline business practices that cram passengers in with such density, or just, you know, grow the fuck up.
I’m sure there will be some differing opinions in the comments here, so I guess we may as well get on that. Off we go.