Frequent Fliers Want Their Space

Jake GammonHead of Omnibus, US
September 08, 2014, 6:37 PM GMT+0

The more frequently people fly the more they expect to be able to recline and the more tactics they are likely to adopt to defend their space.

Many frequent fliers (those taking 4 or more flights a year) are aware of the Knee Defender. 41% of those frequent fliers had heard of the gadget before all the recent publicity, compared to only 24% of the general public.

Frequent Fliers Defend Their Space

One third (33%) of the general population think that it is impolite to fully recline on a short flight (less than 4 hours) compared to only 21% of frequent fliers (those taking 4 or more flights a year). More than a third (34%) of those frequent fliers think that people should be able to recline fully on a short hop.

Over a third of Americans (67%) think that people should be able to recline their seats to some extent on even a short flight and 79% of frequent fliers agree. About a quarter (24%) of Americans believe that people should be able to fully recline their chairs during short flights, while over a third of frequent flyers (34%) agree with this sentiment.

For long haul flights (over 4 hours) and night flights frequent fliers are even more determined to recline fully at 55% and 59% respectively, compared to 38% and 46% of the general population. Those who take 1-3 flights a year fall between.

Men are more likely than women to believe they have the right to recline fully – despite more men likely being affected by lack of space. 29% of men compared to 19% of women believe they should have the right to recline fully even on a short flight.

Although frequent fliers are clearest about their desire to recline, one in five (20%) of frequent fliers have attempted to prevent somebody in front from reclining in front of them.

Battle For The Arm Rest

Although around one third of frequent fliers (31%) claim that they don’t fight for armrest space because it just is not worth the battle, 6 points lower than the general population, there are some common tactics for maintaining armrest supremacy:

12% of frequent fliers put their arm down on the whole arm rest and don’t give way, 18% make sure they put their arm down quickly to maintain territory.

Men use their weight and size to maintain territory (12% compared to 4% of women) and are more likely to ask their fellow passenger to give them more room (14% of men compared to 8% of women).

For further information about poll results, and for details about methodology and omnibus services, please email

Find the full results here.

Image courtesy of Press Association