Is it Rude to Recline Your Chair on an Airplane?

Traveling on airplanes is exhilarating, if not sometimes cramped. 

But, what about reclining your seat and getting comfortable? Is it ok, or is it considered rude? Read on below and find out!

Is it Rude to Recline Your Chair on an Airplane?

Reclining your seat on an airplane ride isn’t out of the ordinary at all. However, it can indeed be considered rude if you aren’t aware of your surroundings.

If you don’t want to be thought of as rude when you recline your chair on an airplane, first have a look around and see if it is going to disturb anyone. 

For example, is the person sitting behind you working on a laptop, or eating dinner? If so, wait to recline your chair until they are done.

Otherwise, reclining your chair on an airplane is perfectly acceptable and not rude at all. 

Afterall, there is very little about traveling in comfort… so long as it does not interfere with the comfort of others.

How Rude Is it?


On a scale of 1 to 10, reclining your chair on an airplane rates 5 on the rude meter. The reason that reclining your chair on airplanes rates 5 out of 10 on the rude meter is that it is either not rude at all, or is extremely rude. 

When you are in the clear, meaning no one behind you will be disturbed, reclining your chair is A-OK. The airline wouldn’t make it an option if they didn’t want you to do so.

That said, when people sitting behind you are handling a baby, working, or eating, reclining your chair is taking up space they need and is indeed very rude of you.

Why is it Rude?

When you are traveling in the air, it is a bit different than driving down the freeway in a bus or car. 

That said, the seating maybe even more cramped, which makes it rude to take up even more of the little space other passengers have.

Why is it Not Rude?

It isn’t rude to recline a chair that has the option to be reclined. That said, you should always be considerate of those around you. 

If passengers need their space, it is indeed rude of you to recline your chair and take it from them.

Common Questions

Is it ok to recline your seat back on airplanes?

It is perfectly fine to recline your seat back on airplanes. If the airline didn’t want you to recline your seat, they wouldn’t make it an option for you to do so. 

That, however, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be considerate of the other passengers and their personal space. 

Do you have the right to recline your airplane seat?

Yes, you absolutely have the right to recline your airplane seat while flying. But, if you do, the other passengers also have the right to find it rude. 

That said, so long as you aren’t taking up their space, they aren’t likely to find it rude (as they will most likely recline their chairs at some point during the flight as well).

Why don’t people like the back of the plane?

The very back rows of chairs on planes can not recline. For this reason, they are often the least preferred seats on the airplane.