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Delta Is Cutting How Far People Can Recline in Seats to Make Flying More Comfortable

Of all the disagreements in the world, there may be none as divisive as whether reclining one's airplane seat is a naked act of aggression against the person behind you or simply the right of any paying passenger to be as comfortable as possible...

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Of all the disagreements in the world, there may be none as divisive as whether reclining one's airplane seat is a naked act of aggression against the person behind you or simply the right of any paying passenger to be as comfortable as possible. No matter where you stand on the issue, though, there's no arguing that having your knees mercilessly smushed by a tray table for hours on end sucks. 

Luckily for the vertically gifted among us, Delta Air Lines is aiming to ensure there's enough legroom for everyone and will be reducing how far its seats can recline on an entire fleet of jets

The big change is Delta's way of trying to make domestic flights more comfortable for everyone, according to The Points Guy, which first reported that the carrier was reducing how far seats on some of its jets recline. The move will cut the current coach seat recline on its fleet of A320 aircraft from 4 inches to 2 inches, while first class seats will now recline 3.5 inches from the current extension of 5.5 inches. It will begin retrofitting the seats Saturday, April 13, and expects to have them all tweaked in about two months.

The company insists this is simply a test of how to best preserve passenger comfort in the air and that it will only be reducing recline ability for seats on the 62 A320 aircraft it operates, which mostly fly short routes (one to two hours) in North America. Depending on feedback, it may expand the change to other jets in its fleet, though at the moment there are no plans to reduce the ability to recline in coach on international flights. 

If you're curious if this is just a sly way for the airline to squeeze in more rows of seats, it insists that's not the case. 

“It’s really not at all a gateway to reducing your legroom. That is not the intent here,” Ekrem Dimbiloglu, Delta’s director of onboard product and customer experience told TPG in an interview. “If we were adding seats, or something else, the cynics would be correct. But this is really about more personal space.”

It's tough not to see how this isn't a positive thing for everyone involved, when you consider all the passive aggressive resentment it may stymie from those of us sitting behind trigger-happy serial seat recliners.

Hopefully, other airlines are taking notes, because this is a trend we can get behind. 

h/tThe Points Guy


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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.