Researchers think this is one way to make sure there aren’t mid-air fights
Passengers might fly into a rage over this one.
Two researchers — who both agree that “people who get in fights over airplane seats are idiots” — looked at the issue of whether you could prevent some of the stress and fighting over the to-recline-or-not-recline debate on planes by making people pay for the right to recline. The answer: It can work in some cases.
Christopher Jon Sprigman of New York University’s School of Law and Christopher Buccafusco of the Cardozo School of Law, whose study was published in Evonomics, told participants that the airline had a new policy that would allow people to pay those seated in front of them to not recline their seats. They asked one group to give the least amount of money they’d accept to not recline during the flight, another group the most amount of money that they would pay to prevent the person in front of them from not reclining. Recliners wanted on average $41 to refrain from reclining, while the person behind them was willing to pay only $18 on average to stop that from happening; in this case, “only about 21% of the time would ownership of the 4 inches change hands,” the researchers write.
Then, the researchers switched the scenario to one in which you had to sit upright on the plane or pay to lean back — and the numbers look a little different. In this scenario, recliners said they’d pay $12 to recline, while those behind them were unwilling to sell their knee room for less than $39; in this case, 28% of people would come to an agreement. Why the discrepancy between the two conditions? “When a resource is provided to someone as a default (as reclining on a plane is now), “people tend to be unwilling to part with it,” the researchers write. “As a consequence, the least amount of money they are willing to accept to give it up is often much greater than the amount that they would be willing to pay to purchase the same item.”
Money or no money, the reclining battle is heated. While you have the right to do it, more than four in 10 people think it’s flat out rude to do so, according to this survey of more than 850 people. “Tilting your seat back on an airplane is pure evil,” writes Dan Kois put it in Slate. Clearly, the inventors of the Knee Defender are in this camp too LINK.
Others think the anti-recline camp has lost their mind: “Reclining is my right,” writes Katherine LaGrave in Conde Nast Traveler. “I don’t consider myself a selfish person, or one who acts with a blatant disregard for others’ privacy, space, or comfort. Yet when I’m on an airplane, sizing my nearly-six-foot-tall frame into some 30 inches of pitch, I will take what little extra space I can—space that, included in the price and feature of the seat, is rightfully mine.
So how many people lean back? The issue is split. One in five say they never recline, 30% only recline occasionally, 14% do it about half the time, 20% usually do it and 14% always lean on back.
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