I discovered something on a recent Delta Air Lines flight in First Class aboard an MD-90. If the person in front of you reclines fully, it is impossible to fully open the thin and light 12″ Macbook computer. That’s right. The computer I bought because it’s thin and light, isn’t small enough to be used in First Class when someone in front of you reclines. I Tweeted my displeasure to the Twitterverse.

delta, delta air lines, md90, md90 first class

Really, I’m Not Angry But….

The “I’ve become an angry old man” hashtag was meant to add a tiny bit of humor to my admittedly first world problem, I’m really not that angry or old, but I want to circle back to this because airline cabin configurations are becoming an issue. I was seated in 3C and my #bragtag clanging, Diamond Medallion friend was in 2C. I should have known something was up when 2C refused to stand up to let 2D escape to the bathroom. (By the way: if you’re on the aisle and the window needs to get up, stand up and let them out because there really isn’t that much room between seats, even in First Class. Just ask Bob.) But once that was over, the real fun began.

My friend to the front decided to get comfortable. Hey, I don’t judge…really. But as I said before, it’s not so much that you recline, it’s the way you recline, and 2C was serious about his reclining. SLAM! Thankfully, I still have some of the reflexes of my aviating youth and slid my brand new laptop back just enough to avoid the sound of dollars and screens going crunch. But 2C wasn’t done, for obtaining that true level of comfort on a 1.5 hour domestic flight was his mission so he began to wallow around and squirm in his seat to get things just right. All the while forcing his seat back ever closer to the top of my computer. 2C’s seat machinations even began to catch the eye of my fellow First Class travelers across the aisle who alternatively glared at the spectacle while occasionally giving me an apologetic smile.

Since no one else in the 16 seat cabin reclined, I couldn’t compare seats to see if maybe, just maybe, 2C’s seat was a little out of adjustment. Seriously, it reclined further than I’ve seen a seat recline in a long time. If I can write notes on your head without leaning forward, you’ve reclined too far. I finally gave up the fight and the idea of working during my flight and put my computer away while mumbling to myself, “thank goodness I didn’t buy a first class ticket for this.”

Does This Rant Say Anything About the State of Air Travel?

Not really….but….maybe….. I’m beginning to wonder if we may have arrived at a place where airlines are on the cusp of pushing too far? I’m not talking about some super-behemoth laptop here. A 12″ Macbook is tiny. Am I really asking too much to be able to use it in flight without some kind of cable and pulley system hanging from the ceiling? I don’t think so.

md90, delta

What to Do?

Well, what can you do? I blame the airlines and not travelers for creating situations like this. They’ve pushed seats closer together, even in First Class, but haven’t adjusted how they recline as far as I can tell. Some airlines have “cradle” seats where the bottom of the seat pushes forward, and the back of the seat doesn’t encroach quite so far into the space of the traveler behind it.

Additionally, I’m taking my own self-defense measures. Next time I clear into F on an MD-90 and I really want to work, I’m going for a bulkhead seat if one is available. I will be that guy who fights to the front of the line and gets his bag stowed in the overhead since I have to stow both the carry on and briefcase. Further, I will dread flying in coach a lot less depending on where I’m sitting. The very next week, on the very same kind of airplane I was seated in an exit row in coach, 25B, the single seat exit row to be exact. I had about the same amount of legroom (other exit rows have a bit more) and the seat in front of me wouldn’t recline. I could use my laptop to get work done….in coach. Irony. Otherwise, I’ll just reach for my iPad and read a book. The likelihood that I accomplish life-changing work on a 1.5 hour flight is about as likely as 2C ever finding that “just right” angle for his seat. (Off soapbox)

-MJ, March 25, 2016