Man filmed after allegedly punching woman's reclined seat: Who is in the wrong?

It's one of the great debates of flying, whether to recline the seat or not.

In the red corner - the recliners. You've paid for your seat; it is designed to recline after all, so push the button as soon as you hit cruising altitude.

In the blue corner - the never-recliners. You are invading your fellow passenger's space, which, of course, is already extremely limited.

Through the years an uneasy balance has been struck (at least ask if you want to recline, put your seat back upright at mealtimes), but sometimes the fight boils over.

On a recent American Airlines flight in the US, one passenger decided to shame a fellow flyer who "punched" and pushed her seat after she reclined it.

"After much consideration, and exhausting every opportunity for #AmericanAirlines to do the right thing, I've decided to share my assault, from the passenger behind me, and the further threats, from an American Airline flight attendant," a user named Wendi Williams wrote on Twitter last week.

Williams posted a clip of the man after she said he hit her seat repeatedly.

"Here's a great jackhole! He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times - HARD, at which point I began videoing him, and he resigned to this behavior (sic)."

She said that, after the plane had reached cruising altitude, she reclined the seat, but had put it back up during meal service. It was after that she reclined again, and the nudging started.


What turned up the heat, even more, was what happened next. Williams said a flight attendant then offered him a rum, and then threatened her with further action on landing.

"I'm in pain," wrote Williams. "I have one cervical disk left that isn't fused – the first one which allows me some mobility. It's scary because it's this kind of injury that could do it in. I am grateful for the limited movement I still have and shouldn't have had to endure repeated blows," tweeted Williams.

"When the Flight [attendant] came. She rolled her eyes at me and said, "What?" She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum! She told me I had to delete the video! It's against the law to video on a plane. I asked her name & She gave me a Passenger Disturbance Notice!"

Who is in the right here?

The video, posted on Twitter, has indeed divided opinion.

Some are questioning if this is the full story, while others back the "puncher".

"Why were you so inconsiderate? Reclining airline seats is such a dud move. I admire his resilience," said one.

"It was a plane, not your private lounge. You don't recline so far you're on someone else's face. Which is why the flight attendant reprimanded you. Get a clue lady."

Others backed Williams.

"Using a standard function for the purpose it was meant for isn't an excuse for this man to bully you into submission. Shame on AA. Would he have done this to another man?"

"If he doesn't like reclining seats he should have taken it up with the airline. They recline for a reason and can be used."

A spokesperson for American Airlines said: "We are aware of a customer dispute that transpired on American Eagle flight 4392, operated by Republic Airways, on January 31.

"The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority, and our team is looking into the issue."

See also: The 16 rules of air travel every passenger should know

See also: The reason why your emotions and senses go crazy on planes