On every airline flight I hear the attendant announce “Please lock your tray tables and return your seat backs to the upright position.” This is repeated prior to take off and in preparation for landing.
Why? I mean, the seat only reclines 2.5 cm in the first place.
I did a little research and I found that there is an actual regulation concerning this very thing:
Do procedures prohibit an airplane from taking off or landing unless each passenger seat back is in the upright position, except as provided in 14 CFR part 121.311(e)(1-2)?
Note(s): During takeoff and landing, seatbacks may be reclined provided:
• Seatbacks do not obstruct access to emergency exits. and
• Seatbacks do not obstruct any passenger’s access to the aisle or to any emergency exit when cabin seats are used for cargo or for persons unable to sit erect for medical reasons.
Updated: Rev # 3 on 09/15/2009
Wait! Did that just say “seatbacks may be reclined provided…”
So it’s more of a suggestion then.
A regulation that would actually be more helpful would be:
“Passengers are prohibited from boarding an aircraft if…
1) The only use they have for a toothbrush is to scratch their backs; or
2) The fumes emanating from their pores exceed 2x the legal limit of alcohol, or
3) The last time the passenger showered was when he fell in the irrigation ditch last fall”
My seatmate on a recent flight would have failed all three tests. I prayed that the oxygen mask would fall from the compartment in the ceiling, but then realized that Mr. Stink next to me would have to lift his arms to get his mask, too. I recanted.
I was glad that my tray table was stowed, so access to my airsickness bag was not obstructed. Airsickness bags are not as big as they used to be. When the flight attendant came through the cabin one last time to collect “any remaining service items” she wasn’t expecting what I dropped in her trash bag. With my shirt pulled up to cover my nose and mouth to act as a filter for my burning lungs, I surreptitiously rolled my eyes in the direction of Mr. Stink. I was trying to place the blame where it belonged, but she didn’t take me seriously because my seat was not in the upright position in preparation for landing. Which caused me to question why, which led to this post, and the realization that, like stop signs in Mexico, the upright seat backs are more of a suggestion.