Delta CEO responds to 'reclinegate' by saying passengers should ask first

Here's an idea, how about making the back row experience more palatable?
Publish date:

Reacting to a viral video that has swept the nation and sparked a conversation on airline etiquette, Delta CEO Ed Bastian has said that passengers should ask the person behind them before they recline their seat.

The video in question is below, showing a woman who had reclined her seat to the chagrin of a tall man who is sitting in the back row – whose seat does not recline, and who proceeds to softly punch the back of her seat repeatedly.

Let's face it, they're both in the wrong. The woman inconsiderate for reclining when the person behind cannot recline themselves, the guy acting like a child by punching the back of her seat.

It's nonetheless has spurred debate over whether passengers should ask before they use the recline option on their airline seats, and Bastian thinks that's the polite thing to do.f

Bastian talked about it on CNBC's Squawk Box on Friday morning.

"I think the proper thing to do is if you're going to recline into somebody that you ask if it's ok," he said, after noting that Delta has been making efforts to increase the "pitch" of passenger seats to give people more room on its flights.

Here's an idea, Delta: charge less for back row

By Adam Uren, BMTN editor.

Rather than weighing into the debate on airline etiquette, how about Bastian – who let's face it, never has this problem as he'll never fly Basic Economy – make some efforts to improve the situation for back row travelers.

They can start by charging considerably less if a passenger ends up in the back row.

It's not just the lack of reclining ability that back row passengers have to deal with, but also the proximity to the toilets, being last to get drink and food service, the fact that it's nosier at the rear of the plane, and on some smaller planes there's no window.

With advance seat selection not available with Basic Economy, you don't know your seat until you check in for your flight.

As such, you're paying the same Basic Economy fare as those sitting several rows in front of you, while having a considerably worse travel experience.

I'm a huge fan of Delta. They're easily the best airline my family and I have flown on and we always look to book them if it's affordable.

But Delta clearly knows this is an issue. A few years back my wife and I flew back to MSP from JFK with our then infant son, and were dealt a back row seat on a small jet that had no window in our aisle.

While the service from the in-flight crew was excellent, I emailed the airline to express dissatisfaction we were paying the same as everyone else for what was ultimately a noisier, darker, and smellier experience.

Delta responded quickly and offered us $100-worth of gift vouchers, which – nice gesture aside – shows that our complaint was warranted.

Next Up