Airlines – The Tilting Seat Dilemma

I don’t like air travel.

It’s because I have a slight case of claustrophobia, that shows itself only occasionally…like when I get caught in an avalanche, become pinned under a toppled elephant, or travel in an airplane. Sometimes the latter is worst of the three situations.

Having just completed a team trip involving air travel – and knowing there are other claustrophobic fliers out there – here’s a suggestion to the airlines that will help those with my affliction.


Why, when there is only about two feet of space between your face and the back of the seat ahead of you, would an airline allow that seat to drop even closer to your face?

It makes even less sense when you consider that many airplanes have television screens on the back of that seat. Like many middle aged men, I have “progressive lenses,” that force you to tilt your head back to see things are close. With the forward seat back and the screen only 18 inches from my face (yes, I have measured), you have to screw yourself into a wrestler’s bridge to get it into focus.

Not to mention that anyone over six feet tall tends to have their knees on the back of the forward seat, because we just don’t fit very well. Tilt that seat back and the body assumes a wrestlers arch with the knees around the face – it’s a yoga pose called, I believe, the Crippled Snake, but only a grand master could hold that pose for more than 40 seconds.

A crumpled claustrophobic is an air rage risk, and adding to the potential for disaster is the fact that the person who plummets the seat onto your knee often has loads of space. That person is often a child. Who not only drops the seat back, but plays with it like a rocking chair, oblivious to the howls of mortal pain coming from behind them, assuming, I guess, that it’s the sound of the jet engines kicking in.

I doubt the airlines will listen to my plea, so in the meantime, there is a solution to this problem if you are traveling with your team. Make sure one of your athletes is sitting in front of you. Threaten that athlete with grievous bodily harm if they tilt their seat back. A good one I have just learned is, “Tilt that seat back and I will chop you into little pieces and sprinkle you on your mother’s potatoes.”

It seems to do the trick. Just don’t utter that threat when the flight attendant is near. Handcuffs and claustrophobics are not a good match.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]airline,airplane,travel,team,tilting seats[/tags]

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