Why do a few inches of recline make a difference on airplane seats during take off/landing?

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Why do a few inches of recline make a difference on airplane seats during take off/landing?

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Because your seat reclines into the space of the seat behind you. Airline seats are very, very close together, often only 14 inches of space. If you take up 3 of those inches by reclining your seat it makes evacuation for the people in the row behind you slower in the unlikely event of an emergency. But, since those emergencies can be super dangerous and slowing the evacuation could kill people, you’re not allowed to recline your seat when the plane is close to the ground and the warning time of an emergency might be very short.

They ask you to keep your seat backs up in case an emergency exit from the plane is required. Seat backs reclined impede a quick exit through the row behind the reclined seat.

Accidents are far more likely on takeoff and landing. When this happens the passengers are hopefully going to be able to evacuate, and it would really be great if people aren’t blocked into their seats because someone wanted to recline. In that case inches really do matter. Another issue is that if the airplane is coming to a sudden stop the passengers can be thrown forward (you don’t have a shoulder strap, remember?) and if the person in front of you has their seat back in your face you will have a bad time.

With all of that to consider, instructing passengers to bring their seats fully upright isn’t that big an ask.

If you’re referring to how flight attendants ask you not to recline seats: keep in mind that if an emergency requires an evacuation of the plans, you probably want to get off the plane ASAP. *Anything* that causes any delay could mean a loss of one or more lives.

Seconds matter when getting out of and away from a hollow metal tube full of jet fuel that might have a risk of igniting.

Inconsistent seat positions can slow down passengers that are groping their way towards the exit after an accident. When hundreds of people need to escape from 4-to-6 small doors within 1 minute, every second counts.

It blocks the easy egress for the people in the row behind you more than making it hard for you to get out. Also, seats may be more fully locked in the upright position but more prone to moving up or down when recline due to jostling or impacts.

My pregnant wife and I flew to Europe last month. She was 5 months pregnant and showing a little bit. When we are at cruise and the person in front of us was fully reclined, she couldn’t get out of her seat without my help. Imagine that scenario if there were to be an accident on take-off or landing which required rapid evacuation from the aircraft.

[Before anybody asks, yes, she was totally OK to fly both from a medical perspective and an airline policy perspective.]

Take off and landing are the two parts of a flight where there’s a chance that you’d need to get out of the plane in an emergency.

Tilting your seat back pushes it into the space behind, which makes it harder for the people behind you to get out. Just a few inches can make a huge difference in how hard it is to get out, and it also brings the back of the seat closer to a person’s face so they are more likely to smash their face into it if the plane suddenly stops.

In an emergency, you want to get everyone out as fast as possible in case of a fire, so making sure that they are aware and there’s the most space possible for them to get out of their seat is important.

“Why do a few inches of recline make a difference on airplane seats during take off/landing”

In what regard?

I keep my seat upright at all times. The 2 inch recline is super uncomfortable for me and is being a total jerk to the people behind me. It’s a lose lose situation

In addition to the evacuation reasons previously listed, the seats are certified to withstand crazy loads (measured in G’s) and they are certified in the non recline position.

So if you recline your seat and the seat experiences a sudden acceleration or deceleration, the seats may not be able to bear that load.

Submarining. If the plane crashes, you move forward real fast. If you’re in a reclined position, your body will be forced below the seat belt and you’ll be stuffed with your carry-on underneath the seat in front of you.

I’m going to say this one time and one time only. Everyone should have their seats upright when taking off.

Example. The seat belt goes across your lap. When upright and in an emergency when the plane comes to a stop. Your body goes forward, you bend at the waist. Okay cool pretty bad, but safety wise pretty good.

Example. The seat belt goes across your lap. You decide to recline the seat. Then the seat is reclined and the plane comes to an emergency stop. You’re fucked. You’re pretty much going to slip under the seat belt up until the chest. Your chest gets crushed. Then you’re legs slip out under you towards the seat ahead, your legs get crushed.

Both are shitty situations, but I’d rather not have my chest and legs pressed like a panini.

I’m 6’4″. If the selfish buckethead in front of me has their seat reclined my legs are jammed against the seat and I am eating the headrest, thus making egress x2 more difficult. Also, submarining.

Because takeoff and landing are the most likely times to have a crash, and even a few degrees of incline much it much more likely that during a sudden deceleration that you get slid UNDER the seatbelt instead of INTO it. During which you can literally lose your head.

This is on top of the space/escape issues others have brought up.

Ok, i get the explanations on why it shouldn’t be reclined from neutral, but 90 degree chair backs kill my back. Why is the default q straight 90, instead of like 95 which would feel so much more natural and reflect the general standards in public.

Also, put your window shades up on takeoff and landing, as instructed. It gives a clear view of danger or obstructions outside of the exit in the event of an evacuation. On my most recent three-hop trans-Pacific flight, so many passengers popped their wireless earbuds in and ignored the crew members.