This is truly one of the issues of the day. A decade ago I averaged 125 flights a year. I spent a lot of time in an airplane. These days I fly around 30 flights annually. That is not much compared to some road warriors, but still far more time in flying aluminum tubes than your average traveler. I have a friend who travels every week. He and I agree, the biggest problem with flying is the "fucking tourists". Not only do they get cheaper fares, they have no idea how to travel respectfully.
Here are my rules for reclining your seat and flying in general:
1. If it is a day flight of under two hours you have no need to recline your seat -- ever. If you cannot sit upright for two hours you have issues and should see a doctor.
2. Do not ever recline your seat and then lean forward to work on your laptop like the jerk in front of me did a few weeks ago.
3. Do not recline your seat during meals.
4. I know you are nervous. It is not my job to converse with you to calm your anxiety. Read your seatmates body language. I am holding a book because I want to read it, not as a conversation starter.
5. If your bag does not fit in the overhead, cramming will not help.
5a. If you are unable to lift your bag into the overhead without help, check it, or put it under your seat.
6. One bag and a purse or briefcase: that over-sized duffel bag is not a fucking purse and you are not fooling anyone. Storage space is limited and your assholery only takes away space from someone else. I know baggage fees suck. Pack less, pack more efficiently or check your damn bag.
6A. The overhead space is for everyone. You are not guaranteed the space above your seat. A guy once went rabid dog on me for putting my bag above his seat. The attendant had to restrain him from following me down the aisle demanding I move my stuff from "his bin". Like I said -- fucking tourists.
6b. The space under the seat in front of you is yours. You cannot put your stuff under the seat in front of me. Yes, I have seen jerks try this -- one guy put his bag under the seat across the aisle. His argument to the attendant who told him to move it -- "I need the legroom, she doesn't"!
7. If you are on short flight on a puddle jumper (small commuter flight) you do not have to work. If you have not prepared for your meeting, that extra 30 minutes is not going to help, and your elbow in my side while you try to manage your laptop is just rude.
8. Have your ticket ready when they call your zone or row.
9. Read the TSA rules before you go to the airport. You are going to have remove liquids from your bag. Do not make everyone wait while you unpack your suitcase. If you forget, move your shit off the line and let those of us who are prepared go through while you rifle your belongings.
9A if you are wearing 30 pounds of jewelry you will set off the metal detectors. I know you think you look nice, but you are fucking up the process.
10. Go easy on the perfume and cologne when flying. Some of us do not like the scent as well as you do, especially when we cannot escape the odor.
10a If you have long hair, there is no need to flip it over the seat back into my space. You may not want to lean on it, but I don't want it in my Diet Coke.