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Ross: Do you have the right to recline your airplane seat?

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

One viral video and suddenly we’re having a national debate about the right to recline your airplane seat without the permission of the person behind you.

Here’s my question – since when do airplane seats “recline?” How can the motion performed by the back of an economy seat on an airplane fit even a generous interpretation of the verb “to recline.”

I’ve sat in furniture that actually “reclines.” Airplane seats do not recline. They flinch. The standard seat moves about two inches when you press the button. Because that’s all you paid for.

If an airplane seat does anything resembling actual reclining either you’re in first class, or you seat is broken.

Now I realize the way seats are stacked, even two inches is an invasion of space. Especially if the invadee is a plus size person. But to have to ask permission for two inches is like asking permission to be allowed to take a deep breath.

Today’s reality is that some people are just too big for economy class. This is not their fault. I have said several times they deserve free upgrades to sit near the cockpit because ultimately they’re the ones who will protect the rest of us if it ever comes to that.

But that’s a separate issue.

In the meantime, the best way to prevent the person in front from reclining is once you’re at cruising altitude, put on a hospital mask and sniffle. Problem solved.

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