Viral Video of Airline Passenger in Last Plane Seat Punching Woman's Reclined Seat in Front of Him Divides Internet

O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
An American Airlines airplane circles O'Hare International Airport on October 10, 2019 in Chicago. A video of an American Airlines passenger punching the seat of a woman has gone viral. Gary Hershorn/Getty

A video of an American Airlines passenger punching the seat of a woman who has leaned her chair into what he considered his space went viral on the internet—prompting some social media users to declare which side they were on.

The 32-second clip shows a man seated in the back seat of an airplane looking at his phone with earbuds plugged in. A woman in the seat in front of his has reclined her chair back. The video shows the man, keeping his eyes on his phone, lightly and repeatedly punching the head of the woman's chair—evidently to show his displeasure at her leaning her seat back.

The Evening Standard reported that the video was originally posted to Twitter by Wendi Williams, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from New Orleans to North Carolina on January 31.

[The man] 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," Williams captioned the video, which she uploaded on Saturday. She further wrote that the flight attendant had reprimanded her and offered alcohol to the man behind her.

Journalist Marina Marraco shared the video on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, writing, "This video has the internet legitimately divided."

Some thought that the man was in the wrong for getting physical with the woman's seat.

The fact that there is so much controversy over this explains a lot about today's world. ... and terrifies me," wrote Monica Lewinsky. "([I]t's always annoying when someone reclines, but she's in the right. THE. SEAT. RECLINES. he would probably never do this to another man.)"

"He is is being a jerk by punching her seat," wrote Twitter user Elaine (@elbh). "She may recline. If it is making him uncomfortable, he may tap her on the shoulder and ask if she is willing to sit up. If not, that's it. If she is willing to do so, she gets props for class. The punching is unforgivable & childish."

"[S]he paid for her seat and can recline it if she wants to," musician Sebastian Bach wrote. [H]e has no right to be an a**hole especially to a woman. I guarantee this punk wouldn't do this if [I] was sitting in front of him."

"He is 1000% wrong," wrote @ringsau. "Everyone knows that the last row seats don't recline. Pick another seat if its a problem. Passengers have every right to recline except during meal service. Whacking the seat in front is just being a jerk."

On the other hand, some users took the side of the man in the video, and focused more attention on what they viewed as the woman's rudeness in reclining her seat.

User @The_Rege provided four reasons to explain why it was the woman who behaved unfairly.

"How is this even a question?" they asked, rhetorically. "She is clearly in the wrong, 1) for reclining, 2) not asking & not pulling forward when it was a clear problem, 3) for filming it, & 4) for sending it in to Bravo. (Granted, he could've handled it better)."

"People who recline are bad people," contended user @keeltyc. "Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD."

"She shouldn't have reclined. She had whatever his response was coming to her," wrote @flyguyOX.

Yet other users still maintained that both parties behaved inappropriately.

"Depends how long the trip is," wrote columnist Rita Panahi. "Reclining on a short flight is trashy but so is punching their seat.

"Both are wrong, both are inconsiderate," was David Weissman's response.

Finally, New York Post writer Jon Levine suggested that neither person was at fault. In his view, the blame fell in the lap of the airline, "for forcing human beings into these depraved Lord of the Flies type situations."

"These two passengers are really on the same side," Levine wrote. "The fact that we view this as a 'right/wrong' question between the two of them—is revealing."

Viral Video of Airline Passenger in Last Plane Seat Punching Woman's Reclined Seat in Front of Him Divides Internet | News