The consequences of teasing the person sitting next to you on the plane by hitting their seat

Travel Tip: If you want your neighbor to not recline their seat, don’t bang on the seat because if you do, you may find out that your laptop is broken.

Passenger slams airplane seat, prompting man in front of him to slam seatback… broken laptop computer

During the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Canadian martial artist Firas Zahabi shared an incident on an airplane. The man behind him banged his seat, probably because he was leaning back. Zahabi leaned further back and broke the man’s laptop (unintentionally, he claims).

My conclusion is clear: don’t hit the seat in front of you.

Trust me, I feel like it from time to time. While I generally believe a person has the right to recline their seat on an airplane, I’ll make an exception for meal times. With some vans, it’s almost impossible to eat your meal with the seat reclined in front of you. As a courtesy, everyone should fold up their seatbacks during mealtimes, even if they are not eating.

So yes, if someone hits my seat, I will leave my seat reclined or recline further. I don’t reward petty behavior.

I don’t think Zahabi wanted to smash the guy’s laptop. Part of me is glad he did though, because it’ll teach the guy behind him not to bump into the seat.

If the person’s seat is reclined in front of me during the meal, I will usually politely ask if they can wait there to recline until the meal is over. This always works, even though the passenger once slept so soundly that I asked the flight attendant to wake him up. Again, this shouldn’t be petty, but because even if you recline yours, it becomes very difficult to eat with the seat reclined.

My laptop almost broke once when the person in front of me quickly leaned back. That was many years ago and ever since then I’ve always tilted the laptop screen so that it doesn’t “snag” and therefore crack and break when the person in front of me leans back without warning and quickly.

Also, when I recline, I always recline very slowly, giving the person time to move it if a laptop or other electronic device is in use.


Tapping the seat in front of you increases the likelihood that the person (regardless of their disposition) will recline or recline their seat further. If you politely ask me not to sit back I will consider it, but if you come across my seat there is no way I will honor your request. And if I have to break your laptop, I won’t do it on purpose, but I won’t shed tears if I do…

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