The Real Reason Your Airplane Seat Needs to Be Upright During Takeoff and Landing

If you’ve ever flown, you’ve heard the instructions: "Ladies and gentlemen, please make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and your seat backs and tray tables are in their fully upright position.” Have you ever wondered why? For starters, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations mandates that “no air carrier may take off or land an airplane unless each passenger seat back is in the upright position.” In other words, putting your seat upright is more than a preference instituted by airlines — it’s actually the law. The other reasons why your seat must be in the upright position have to do with flight safety. The only way for a seat to lock into place is for it to be in the fully upright position, offering the most substantial protection in the event of an impact. A seat that's reclined can't be locked into place, so a sudden stop could cause the seat to act as a catapult, projecting the passenger forward. Sudden acceleration could have the opposite effect, causing the passenger to slam backward into the seat. Nearby passengers can also be negatively impacted by a seat that's not fully upright. Inertia, which naturally occurs once an aircraft is in motion, can impact the angle of a seat and could cause the seat back to crush the passenger sitting behind it. So, those are the reasons why you must put your seat in the upright position. Hopefully, this will help you to be less irritated when you have to do it the next time you fly.