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?”
Actress Rosanna Arquette suggested a boycott.
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.
Buzz Patterson, a Republican congressional candidate in California, also suggested some Delta adjustments to the “sardine-can seats.”
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.
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).