Fury As Passenger Explains Why They Kicked Woman's Seat During Flight Meal

Internet users are divided by a person's passive-aggressive behavior while sitting behind a careless passenger on a red-eye flight.

Taking to the advice forum Mumsnet, user CanStopWillStop explained that during the flight, rather than asking the person in front to pull her seat forward, they chose to "kick her chair during the inflight meal" to see if she would take the hint.

A survey by the travel website Only Wanderlust asked 1,500 airline passengers what their worst airline experiences were. The most frequently mentioned issue was someone kicking the back of the passenger's chair—which affected 9 percent of respondents.

Surprisingly, sitting behind someone who likes to recline their chair was seventh on the list, as over 5 percent of the people surveyed listed this as problematic. Respondents also mentioned people being too loud, people carrying pungent food, or drunken behavior as highly annoying during a flight.

Person Criticized For Kicking Passenger's Chair
Stock image of an annoyed passenger. A Mumsnet user has been criticized for being petty and kicking the chair in front of them. anyaberkut/Getty Images

The Mumsnet post explains that the passenger in front reclined the seat "as soon as humanly possible," and didn't alter it from that position for the rest of the overnight journey, even when the food arrived.

The original poster (OP) wrote that when the meal arrived 45 minutes in, the person in front was "the only person in the cabin" who didn't put their seat back upright. Although her seat remained reclined, she sat "bolt upright" to eat the food anyway.

"I don't believe it's within my rights to ask her to (do the decent thing and) put her chair up, so I can eat in comfort without her chair pressing against my forehead," the post read.

However, the OP chose not to ask her to change her seat position, and instead "did the petty thing" by kicking her chair. The annoyed passenger said her actions meant that the woman in front "had a taste of the discomfort that I have."

After reading through the hundreds of comments on the post, the passenger acknowledged the many criticisms but said that they have "a stutter and dislike speaking to strangers," so the idea of speaking to the woman was a no-go for them.

Lisa Mirza Grotts, an etiquette expert who blends tradition with modern society, helps people make intuitive and well-informed decisions about their behavior.

Speaking to Newsweek about this flight from hell, Grotts suggested that if the person didn't feel able to say anything to their fellow passenger, then they should have sought help from flight staff.

"The person who reclines their seat has every right to," she said. "If the person behind them feels uncomfortable, they should take it up with the flight attendant, or purchase a first-class ticket where there is more space."

Grotts adds that in difficult situations like this, the ability to be assertive and confident is key, but that doesn't have to be confrontational. It's easy to "overthink social interactions" during flights because if it goes wrong, there's no escape.

After sharing the post on March 7, it has already received over 300 comments from other Mumsnet users, with a very mixed reaction. While there are some who hate careless passengers and sympathize with the OP, the majority of commenters think the passenger was acting immaturely by not speaking up.

One person commented: "Why didn't you just ask her to put her seat up while you're both eating? Is this a reverse, or are you 4 years old?"

Another person suggested they should have asked for help from a flight attendant.

"This would drive me crazy too, but YABU [you are being unreasonable] for not just asking her to put her chair forward. Also, it's a shame the flight attendants didn't notice and tell her. I've seen them do this on many a flight," the comment read.

Do you have a dispute with a fellow passenger? Let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice, and your story could be featured on Newsweek.