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The Controversy Over Reclining Airplane Seats

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cbsToday, Peter Greenberg sat down on CBS This Morning to discuss the hot travel issue right now: air rage over seats that recline, and seats that don’t…and the overall state (and size and movement) of airline seats.

Back in June, we posted a travel tip about gadgets that make it easier to sit in coach. One of the items mentioned was the Knee Defender, which Peter first reported on back in 2007. Since then, it’s been used by passengers to literally prevent the person sitting in front of them from reclining their seat.

Even frequent travelers can disagree about whether to recline or not. But the truth is, when the person in front of you reclines, you get even less space, and sometimes, no space at all.

All of this comes at a time when most airlines have been trying to add even more seats to their coach sections (translation: additional revenue). How do they do it? By removing closets, bulkheads, and in some cases, even lavatories.

At the same time, they have narrowed the width of many seats from 18.5 inches to 16.5 inches. The seat pitch (the space between the edge of your seat and the seat in front of you) has also decreased, along with the amount a seat can recline.

In some cases, it’s gone from 32 inches to 28 inches—and yes, it makes a huge difference. To compound matters, the size of OUR seats (as in butts) has increased. On average, Americans weigh 30 pounds more than we did in the 1970’s.

Watch the video from today’s segment, and learn Peter’s tips for getting some secret coach seats.

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By Peter Greenberg for