"I'm not a violent person. I'm not an angry person," said Shane Mathew Diedrichs, after he'd violently and angrily whacked the back of the seat in front of him on a flight from Wellington to Brisbane.
The passenger seated in front of him had reclined the seat shortly after takeoff on the Virgin flight in November. Terse words followed and whatever Diedrichs' assertions that he's not an angry man, he sure acted like one.
He whacked and shoved the seat. The bloke in front complained of whiplash. Police were called. Welcome to Brisbane, sir, please step this way.
Diedrichs, who pleaded guilty to offensive and disorderly behaviour, last week got a $600 fine and a lecture from an Aussie magistrate. She said the Kiwi was lucky not to be facing an assault charge.
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"Being in an aircraft, it's a confined space, it can get out of control," the magistrate warned. "People's emotions have to be kept in check."
This is a no-brainer. The person seated in front of you has the same right to recline their seat as you do to recline your own.
You can ask them nicely to put it up and they can say, "Sorry, pal".
Complain to a crew member, if you must. Hell, write a letter to the airline insisting that they not let seats recline, if it gives you a thrill. What you can't do is whack the seatback if you're unhappy with your fellow passenger's repose.
"It's a short flight, no one reclines their seat between here and New Zealand," Diedrichs said. "I did ask nicely and it was the response I got, that's what fired me up."
Clearly, he's wrong. Some people do recline their seats on that flight. Always keep your cool.