top of page

To recline, or not to recline? Ellen Degeneres says ‘Recline to one another’

Randy Holmes/ABC via Getty Images

Wendi Williams, a passenger on an American Airlines regional flight is getting even more spotlight now since she first posted the now-viral video on Twitter of an incident with a passenger on a flight.

As the incident re-sparked the airline seat recline debate, it now has the attention of daytime star Ellen Degeneres.

The video that Williams posted shows an unidentified man sitting behind her allegedly punching the back of her seat during a flight from New Orleans to Charlotte on Jan. 31.

Williams had tweeted Andy Cohen, host of Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” to nominate the seat-punching man for “Jackhole of the Week” on the show.

“Here’s a great jackhole!” Williams wrote on Twitter last week. “He was angry that I reclined my seat and punched it about 9 times - HARD, at which point I began videoing him, and he resigned to this behavior.”

She also indicated that she put her seat up when the man was eating. When he finished, she put her seat back down and that is when the man started punching.

Degeneres had no problem making this the subject of her monologue at the top of her show on Wednesday.

She joked at first saying that Williams’ seat looked uncomfortable, but Brookstone sells seats like that for $600, referring to the constant back and forth motion created from the man’s punches.

Degeneres explained further: "The man couldn't recline his own seat because he was in the very last row by the bathrooms – which, in my opinion, should be free but for some reason they cost the same as all the other seats. So he asked the woman to put her seat up while he ate because he had very little room which there is on the planes like that. So she put her seat up but then when he finished eating, she reclined it then he started a boxing match with her a seat."

She also said that she could not believe that there was a “great debate” over whether the man or Williams was right in this situation.

In a follow-up tweet, Williams said that the flight attendant supported the man and told her that it was illegal to film video on planes.

"I can't believe anybody is taking the man's side," Degeneres said. "Because to me, the only time it's ever okay to punch someone's seat is if the seat punches you first. Then I think you can punch the seat back."

Degeneres also noted at the top of her show that if someone pulls out a phone and is recording a person for evidence, it is the first sign that the person is doing something that they should not be doing.

Towards the end of her monologue, she said: "Airlines seats are made to recline. She has a right to recline her chair. And I get it. There's not a lot of legroom, you're frustrated, you're hot because of the beard. But you're also an adult and you have to act like an adult on a plane. Don't pick on her like a third grader punching the back of a seat. I can't believe anybody would think that's okay."

As Degeneres’ says “be kind to one another,” to conclude each of her shows, she concluded her monologue similarly.

"If you're ever unsure on how to behave on a plane, just remember what I say at the end of every one of my shows: recline to one another," Degeneres said.


bottom of page