The dilemma facing long-haul travellers across the globe
The decision to take a long-distance bus notwithstanding, a dilemma faced by many a traveller including ourselves is how to cope with the posturing and politics of reclining seating on buses, trains, planes and even ferries.
I have travelled on many a bus with so much space between the seats that this is a non-issue. However, as is the case with most, if you are faced with a confined space between your arse and the seat in front ( made all the worse if you are 6 foot plus ) then the journey can turn into a trial for both body and mind.
So what is the correct strategy for dealing with this difficulty? As far as I have mapped out in my mind during many laborious, nocturnal trials there are a few options.
Initiate the recline - Sitting at the front? Then you might have no option, but this is hardcore if your anywhere in the middle.
Recline and recline again - Sensible, but how patient are you going to be on a 16 hour slog.
Don´t recline at all - Big risk unless your a pygmy (is that PC these days?). DVT anyone?
Then, what about the etiquette of consulting with your fellow passengers? A potential mine field especially if there´s a language barrier. Do you confront your recliner ahead, ask permission behind you or just pretend to stare out the window during your own or someone else's movement. Illustrating the gesture that the person infront has already reclined can be difficult to master.
An additional complexity, if you have plumped for a more horizontal approach is how far do to take it? Fair enough on a lot of transport you'll be limited to a couple of centimetres but with the business class option now within reach of some penny pinchers, your view of the air conditioning unit above can be significantly improved.
My personal thought is that timing is everything. If its a standard day bus venture then matching any reclination from your fellow strugglers is probably ideal. However if a meal is involved and you push it to the limit, the (sod's law, portly) amigo behind is likely to find that seeing his meal beyond his chin is nearly impossible. It's important to add that this scenario can also be beneficial if, as in Pauline's case you rarely take precautions and prefer to store mushroom foo yung in your ponch. Careful consultion is clearly necessary at this time.
Night time can open up other possibilities. Under the cover of darkness, (often pitch black when your in the middle of nowhere) most feel safe to let go of their inhibitions and hit full reverse.
So, after debating this, mostly in my own head but also with the long suffering Pauline, I have to question how we have ended up with this dilemma. And as is often the case it's a money issue. If you can afford it you won't have the problem but because fully flat is out of most people's reach, economy carriers are going to take the sardine approach as far as they can. Hence, the design and layout of seating recognises a need for maximum occupancy over comfort.
As with most things in life best laid plans can come unstuck (or stuck in this case) and even with a strategy (if you have Pauline's luck) the chair with a broken reclining mechanism will always find you. Either that or some lass with a bag of fish will lump it on your lap redering any thought's of comfort defunct.