Bastian was responding to the heated debate about a viral Twitter post showing a male passenger on an American Airlines flight filmed repeatedly punching the seat of the woman in front of him for reclining.
“I think customers have the right to recline,” Bastian said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Friday. “But I think that the proper thing to do is if you’re going to recline into somebody, that you ask if it’s OK first, and then you do it.”
That’s when flyers on Twitter stopped fighting among themselves about reclining, and turned on Bastian — and airlines — for making their lives miserable by jamming more money-making seats into their travel space.
Filmmaker Judd Apatow noted on Twitter that passengers “pay to recline.” Now “you want to create a situation where we all have to negotiate and fight with each other? Are you mad?”
Hey @Delta — no! You want to create a situation where we all have to negotiate and fight with each other? Are you mad? We pay to recline. How about massive discounts when the people behind us say no? https://t.co/xU44px9TgY— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) February 14, 2020
Actress Rosanna Arquette suggested a boycott.
Don’t fly that airline— Rosanna Arquette🌎✌🏼 (@RoArquette) February 14, 2020
ESPN Florida radio host Josh Cohen had an idea: Bastian could take a pay cut and remove three rows of seats to give passengers some elbow room.
Hey Delta CEO Ed Bastian.— Josh Cohen - ESPN WP (@JoshCohenRadio) February 14, 2020
A) When is the last time you even flew commercial? Flew economy?
B) Why do your seats even RECLINE if you think we should ask permission from the passenger behind us?
C) Why don’t you take a pay cut and remove 3 rows instead? 🤔#RECLINEGATE
Buzz Patterson, a Republican congressional candidate in California, also suggested some Delta adjustments to the “sardine-can seats.”
No. No, I don’t. If I buy your seat and it reclines, I’m going to gently, and respectfully recline it. How about this? You build more space between the sardine can seats?!— Buzz Patterson for Congress (@BuzzPatterson) February 14, 2020
Delta CEO Says Passengers Should Ask Permission to Recline Seat https://t.co/ki0zcWXMPM
This is a trap.— Ian Bogost (@ibogost) February 14, 2020
Leg room has shed 6 in since the 1960s, when commercial air travel became popular.
The airlines are squashing more seats on planes, and more people in those seats.
Taking an etiquette position on this matter is a fool's errand.https://t.co/I9d6ojnmel
Man on street asks Delta CEO why they designed a seating system that causes fights between his customers... Says something about management being responsible for systems instead of blaming users of those systems— Jabe Bloom 五行 (@cyetain) February 14, 2020
Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked her viewers on Twitter what they thought about Bastian’s suggestion.
“What would Bernie do?” asked one wag. Another told her to just focus on the Justice Department story.
What would Bernie do?— Robert Kemp 🇬🇧🇨🇦🇺🇸 (@YKM279) February 15, 2020
Who cares Laura?— NadlersTurtleneckPants (@TheAmericans8) February 15, 2020
Focus on the DOJ ....and please let your guests talk.
Last year, Delta retrofitted its Airbus A320 jets to reduce the recline of the coach seats from 4 inches to 2 inches (and first-class seats from 5.5 inches to 3.5 inches).
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.