It's not just to force you to give up those extra inches of space.

Back of Airplane Seats
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Ladies and gentlemen, we are preparing for takeoff. Please put your seats in the upright and locked positions.

You begrudgingly comply. But why?

As with most things that happen on board an airplane, there’s a good reason for it. And that reason has to do with the safety of everybody on board.

In the event of an emergency, a reclined seat could slow down an emergency evacuation. (It gives the people in the row behind you less room to navigate.) This is also the reason that passengers must stow away their tray tables. And because 45 percent of fatal accidents happen during takeoff or landing, cabin crew implement the policy during these crucial times.

Frequent passengers know they must also lift their window blinds. But perhaps this step is a bit more confusing. After all, a lowered blind doesn’t take up any more room in the airplane cabin. However, when the crew dim the lights for ascent, open blinds allow natural light to enter the cabin. This natural lighting allows passengers to better orient themselves in an emergency evacuation.

Although some standard operating procedures may seem arbitrary, there is almost always a good safety reason, all of which cabin crew are required to know. Feel free to ask cabin crew for further explanations about the safety instructions on your next flight — if they’re not busy, you know, making sure everybody is safe and ready for takeoff.