TikTok user's 'unethical' plane 'life hack' to punish reclined seat passengers goes viral: 'Full blast'
Airplane passengers who like to recline their seats might start to feel a draft they hadn’t anticipated now that an "unethical life hack" has gone viral on TikTok.
An anonymous TikTok user who goes by the handle @theLKshow and appears to be from London, according to their Etsy account, is advising people to redirect their overhead fans toward recliners as a way to get them to readjust their seats.
In a ceiling-facing six-second video, theLKshow wrote about their strategy in white on-screen text.
"Unethical life hack: When you are on a flight and the person in front of you reclines their seat all the way and leave you no room. Turn on the air con above you on full blast and point it at the top of their head," theLKshow wrote, which is accompanied by the song "Blicky" from New Orleans music duo Fresh x Reckless.
At the time of publication, the video had received more than 2.4 million views, 111,300 likes, 16,200 shares, 5,200 saves and 2,900 comments.
"The plane ride is so long when you get one of these people in front of you," theLKshow captioned the video along with a yawn emoji and the hashtags #plane, #reclinetheseat and #annoyingpassengers.
The video resparked the age-old debate about whether plane passengers should have reclining seats.
"There are 2 kinds of people in this world: those who recline and don’t care, and those who will never recline," said one TikTok user, whose comment received more than 11,900 likes.
"Recliner seats are there to recline," another user wrote.
"And air cons are there to air con," another commenter quipped.
"Those seats should not recline," one user wrote.
Several other commenters reasoned that if all plane passengers reclined their seats, then everyone would have the same amount of room.
Others argued that the recline distance is marginal and doesn’t offer real comfort, so passengers should be considerate of those who sit behind them.
"I pay for a seat that reclines," one TikTok user defended.
"I pay for a seat with a usable table," another user argued. "You reclining takes away my usable table."
People who support seat reclining cited a number of reasons as to why they need the space, including tall heights, back conditions and neck aches, but not all received sympathy.x
Those on the anti-recline side also cited reasons as to why they detest reclined seats, including knee aches from uncomfortable seating, interrupted movie watching, meal- or drink-related accidents and not having enough space to work on laptops or tablets.
Both sides argued that people who need more room should buy exit-row tickets, extra legroom tickets or business class tickets if they’re truly bothered by the pro and con reclined seat debate.
Some TikTok users claimed they never recline their seats, not even on long-haul flights that exceed five or 10 hours.
Others declared that they would never choose to sit upright for that long because they would be too uncomfortable.
"I feel like we should be directing our frustration at the airline that puts these rows so close together just to cram more of us in there for more $$$," one TikTok user reasoned.
Many users commented that they’ll now plan to carry beanies or similar hats in case an upset passenger tries to direct an air conditioner at their head for reclining.
Some even noted or joked that they always feel warm so feeling additional air conditioning would feel like a reward rather than a retaliation for reclining their seat.
A travel survey published by The Vacationer – a New Jersey-based travel news outlet that offers reviews, guides and tips – found that 77.32% of American adults (more than 199 million) think it’s rude to fully recline a plane seat.
However, 31.33% of American adults still choose to recline even though they think it’s rude, the survey claims.
Approximately 27.87% of American adults say they "politely ask" the passenger seated behind them if it’s OK before they recline their seat and 45.99% of American adults say they avoid reclining because they think it’s rude.
A member of the theLKshow, which is run by two "students from Great Britain," declined to reveal their identities to Fox News Digital, but the anonymous user wrote in a TikTok direct message that the pair share unethical life hacks for comedic purposes.
"We were really surprised at how the video took off and it really created a huge debate all across the internet and we both really enjoyed seeing all the different arguments and points of view come forward," theLKshow wrote.
The anonymous user explained that the unethical life hack joke they came up with was formed after encountering someone who reclined their seat from takeoff to landing, but they never tested out their air conditioner theory.
"It was purely a joke between two friends which we thought would be funny to share to TikTok," theLKshow wrote. "We do advise that the viewers don’t take the TikTok too literally and shouldn’t turn to pranks on a stranger on a plane but instead politely ask them to put their seat up."
According to theLKshow, if a reclined passenger doesn’t adjust the seat after being asked then it’s ultimately up to the person sitting behind if they want to test the air conditioner trick since "accidents happen."
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reports that unruly air passenger rates have drastically fallen since the 2021 spike, but altercations are still occurring on flights for various offenses.
In March, a woman was removed from a Philadelphia-bound Frontier Airlines flight in Miami after starting a disruptive argument with another passenger before takeoff.
Also in March, two men exchanged blows on a Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas to Phoenix after one bumped into the other’s wife. Both men were deplaned, according to the FAA.
Disputes about reclined seats have happened in recent years as well, including a stuck seat that led to a physical fight between two men on an American Airlines flight from New Orleans to Austin in 2021, and a woman having her reclined seat repeatedly punched on an American Airlines flight from New Orleans to Charlotte in 2020, Fox News Digital previously reported.
The FAA reports the unruly passenger rate is 4.4 incidents per 10,000 flights, according to numbers it has from April 2022.
There were 1,099 unruly passenger investigations initiated by the FAA in 2021, compared to the 386 unruly passenger investigations initiated in 2022.
Unruly passenger data for 2023 has yet to be published by the FAA, but the agency revealed last month that it’s referring more cases to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for criminal prosecution review.
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