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Delta CEO Affirms Right to Recline — But Says It’s Proper to Ask First

(CNBC) Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said Friday that while he does not recline his seat on flights, he believes people should have the right to do so.

“The proper thing to do is, if you’re going to recline into somebody, you ask if it’s OK first,” Bastian said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “I never recline, because I don’t think it’s something as CEO I should be doing, and I never say anything if someone reclines into me.”

The debate on whether people flying economy should be able to recline their seats was reignited this week after an American Airlines passenger filmed a man punching the back of her seat after she leaned back.

People who weighed in on social media were divided on the question: If someone pays for a seat with a recline button, should they be able to do so?

Airline cabins have become increasingly crowded over the past 40 years, in an attempt by airlines to fit more passengers on board.

Seat pitch, or the distance from one seat back to the next, is about 31 inches for economy seats, though some budget airlines only offer 28 inches.

At Delta, Bastian said, “We haven’t reduced our pitch on our aircraft in years. We’re going the other way.”

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