Reclining passenger breaks laptop of passenger behind them. Who's fault is it?!

Publish Date
Sunday, 1 March 2020, 6:26PM
Photo / Supplied to NZ Herald

Photo / Supplied to NZ Herald

A passenger aboard a US domestic flight has lashed out online after his laptop was broken when the person seated in front of him reclined their seat.

Pat Cassidy has written a piece on Barstool Sports about his experience as well as several Tweets and images of what unfolded on the Delta flight from Austin to Los Angeles.

"There was a time when I had a working laptop, but that was a long time ago, before the selfish b**tard in 13A decided to fully recline his seat and castrate my livelihood," he wrote.

Cassidy explained he was editing photos on his laptop, which was sitting on the tray table, but when the person in front suddenly reclined, his computer screen "folded like a taco".

Cassidy also tweeted his outrage.

"@Delta small note for the suggestion box, maybe have a little warning sign or someway to prevent my laptop from being destroyed when the person in front of me reclines their seat," he tweeted.

"Also, this one is more of a critique than a suggestion. I really appreciate that your flight attendant came over to tell me that the passenger in front of me 'needs to be able to recline' and then asked him 'if he was okay?' as if your seat hadn't just ruined my livelihood."

In his article, Cassidy outlined the clear etiquette of seat reclining on planes.

Cassidy decided to complain to Delta, and the airline responded with an apology, but no offer of compensation.

"Thank you for writing us about your experience. I'm sorry your laptop was broken due to another passenger reclining on your seat. It's not fair when one person's behaviour affects another person. Please know that Personal property damaged in-flight as a result of a passenger action is not reimbursable. We regret the inconvenience this has caused you.

Instead, as a "goodwill gesture" the airline offered Cassidy 7500 airpoints with the carrier's loyalty programme.

Cassidy shared the email on Twitter saying it was the equivalent of a "$75 gift card and an explanation that you would give a six year old."

Of course, the situation has left the internet clearly divided once more over proper etiquette when it comes reclining.

"The person needed to recline. If Macbooks are broken, chalk it up to collateral damage. They had to recline, damnit. That 4 degree difference is vital," wrote @AUnobtrusive.

@hisham_hm also had little sympathy: "Am I the only one to think this is not the airline's fault? You _tucked_ the screen into the tray storage area. Frankly, it's unsurprising that this would happen."

But some Twitter users also had clear thoughts on the issue.

"Nobody should be allowed to recline on an airplane. It only causes issues," wrote Randall Kanna.

"Seat recliners are THE worst people," said Michel Fisher.

Another user @boop lamented the damage that can be done by seat recliners.
"i sincerely do not understand why people are unable to gently recline backwards, it's not just laptops at risk but knees, drinks on the table, etc."

Last month, the head of Delta Air Lines said in an interview with CNBC that passengers should ask permission or check with the person behind them before they recline their seat.

Ed Bastian told the media outlet he never does it himself.

"I never recline, because I don't think it's something that, since I'm the CEO of the airline, I should be reclining my seat."

Last month a video surfaced online of an American Airlines passenger repeatedly "punching" the back of a reclining traveller's seat.

Wendi Williams uploaded the video to Twitter of the man hitting the back of her seat.

"Here's a great jackhole!" she wrote. "He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times - HARD, at which point I began videoing him, and he resigned to this behaviour."