Don’t push us – let us lie in peace

When I fly, I’m a recliner. I don’t care how long the flight is – five minutes or five hours – as soon as we’re airborne, I’m reclining my seat. In fact, I don’t even wait to get on board; I practise on three adjacent seats at the gate. “Reclining is good but horizontal is better” is my mantra.

Man is not designed to sit upright: If God had wanted us to stay upright on a flight, He wouldn’t have given us hip joints. Remember the 11th commandment – “Always ask for an upgrade” did have a subordinate clause: “thou shalt recline”.

To recline or not to recline has been in the news a lot of late, featuring “The Knee Defender” – two pieces of plastic costing $21.95 that lock your tray in position to prevent the person in front from reclining. A passenger on a flight from Newark to Denver, in the USA, used his Knee Defender because he wanted to use his laptop. The woman in front wanted to recline.

After saying, “Sir, pray desist” (or words to that effect), she finally got fed up and threw a glass of water over him. Now, I’m not an advocate of air rage, but clearly he provoked her; the purchase of an airline seat comes with full reclining rights. The plane was diverted to Chicago, where they were hauled off the flight by the police and given a lecture on good flight etiquette. He was lucky; he could have been charged with sabotaging an aircraft, with his six-hour flight ending up as 444 years in a maximum security jail. Or, if he was really unlucky, a life sentence.

Two days later, on a Miami-to-Paris flight, a Frenchman was jumped on by two air marshals who handcuffed him and diverted the plane. Had he threatened the stewardess with a pâté de compagne and a baguette? Held a can of foie gras above his head and demanded to be flown to ISIS headquarters? No, he’d got more than a little upset because the passenger in front of him was trying to recline his seat. He’s still in custody.

I don’t advocate air rage but she was provoked

Nowadays, even the flight attendants all seem to be paid up members of the newly formed ARF – the Anti Reclining Front. On a recent flight to NY I was woken mid Atlantic by the stewardess: “We’re going to be experiencing turbulence, Sir, please put your seat in the upright position”.

I had my seat-belt on, and was fast asleep. “Did you really have to wake me up,” I asked.

“Sir, we have to wake you up even if we are about to crash. It’s the regulations,” she said.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “you’d wake me up if we were about to crash? Why?”

“That’s the regulations.”

“Why? I don’t want to spend the last five minutes of my life screaming ‘We’re about to crash!! We’re all going to die!!’ I’d rather die fast asleep.”

In future, when I fly I’m going to put a printed sign on my forehead: “In the event that the plane is about to crash, please do not wake me. Just leave me in the recline position.”