Passengers should pay to recline their seats on flights, professors say

Professors Christopher Buccafusco and Christopher Jon Sprigman found passengers would be willing to pay for reclining ...
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Professors Christopher Buccafusco and Christopher Jon Sprigman found passengers would be willing to pay for reclining privileges.

Would you be willing to pay the passenger behind you on a plane for the privilege of reclining your seat? Or accept payment not to recline yours?

Two American law professors have suggested airlines introduce a bargaining system which would see passengers pay to put their seat backs, or be paid to refrain from doing so, The Independent reported

Christopher Buccafusco and Christopher Jon Sprigman from New York have researched how much people would be prepared to cough up to ensure maximum legroom. 

They found passengers would be willing to shell out US$12 (NZ$17) to the person behind them to be able to lean back. But those seated behind would demand US$39 (NZ$57) to give up their legroom. 

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On the other side of the coin, passengers would require an average US$41(NZ$60) from the person behind them to keep their seats upright, while the person behind would cough up US$18 (NZ$26) to stop them reclining. 

The professors said a bargaining system for certain privileges could reduce tension on flights. Their recommendations follow a string of high-profile incidents aboard aircraft, including the United Airlines fiasco that saw a man left bruised and bloodied after he was dragged off an overbooked flight. 

Buccafusco and Sprigman said the bargaining system could also include drinks and snacks, with passengers buying them for each other rather than getting them for free. 

"Nobody likes the recent turn toward airlines charging for every service, but maybe what we need is more of that," they wrote.

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"Most airlines still hand out free drinks, and sometimes little bags of pretzels. Maybe instead they should charge for them and allow passengers to purchase them for one another.

"Everyone wins. Seat recline space is efficiently allocated. Airlines are marginally further from bankruptcy. And no one gets punched in the face."

The professors said their study found passengers preferred the idea of swapping reclining privileges for a drink or snack to exchanging money. 

"Most people are not economists (thank God), and they have some ethical resistance to the idea of making every human interaction into a money transaction," they said.

Would you pay to recline your seat? Or to stop the person in front of you from reclining? Let us know in the comments.

 - Stuff

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