There’s no surer way to turn a formerly civil group of adults into two bitterly divided, frothing, seething camps than to bring up the topic of airline seat reclining. Imagine what it would look like if the cast of Fox News got stuck in an elevator with the MSNBC crew. Things get ugly, and fast.
All because of four inches of space. My iPhone is longer than that. So why do those four inches become so important at 30,000 feet?
There are a couple of reasons. The first is physical. To stay solvent, airlines have, over the years, reduced the space between economy seats, but have not removed those seats’ capacity to recline. (The exception is a small handful of budget carriers.) Therefore, a reclined seat 6A might very well thrust a tray-table with a meal or laptop on it smack into the abdomen of the passenger in 7A.