Skip to main content

Recline Airline Seat Controversy: Delta CEO Says to Ask First

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian explains some air travel etiquette.
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

In a wide-ranging interview on CNBC, Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Free Report CEO Ed Bastian laid out air travel etiquette for when it is appropriate to recline your seat after a viral video showed a male passenger punching the back of the chair of a woman who reclined into his space.

“The proper thing to do is, if you’re going to recline into somebody, you ask if it’s OK first,” Bastian told the CNBC anchors. “I never recline, because I don’t think it’s something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me.”

The discussion was prompted by a video posted to Twitter by Wendi Williams, a passenger on an American Airlines  (AAL) - Get Free Report plane who had a run-in with a fellow passenger that resulted in a confrontation.

"Here’s a great jackhole! 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 behavior,” Williams said in a tweet.

TMZ obtained a reported copy of a "passenger disturbance notice" that was given to Williams by the airline after a flight attendant ordered her to stop filming the encounter. She claimed that the attendant also threatened to have her prosecuted. 

In the same interview, Bastian said the company would invest $1 billion over 10 years in initiatives designed to help curb the impact of global air travel on the climate.

The Atlanta carrier said it intended to become the first carbon-neutral airline globally, while it helps fund research into projects involving clean-air tech and the reduction of carbon emissions and waste.

“We will continue to use jet fuel for as far as the eye can see,” Bastian said. “We’ll be investing in technologies to reduce the impact of jet fuel, But I don’t ever see a future where we’ll eliminate jet fuel from our footprint.”