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Battle of the knee defenders gets pax kicked off flight

September 1, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 2 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59“Knee Defenders” – little gadgets which fit onto airline tray tables and stop passengers in front reclining their seats, have led to a fight on a US flight.

A website ( advertises the locking devices for USD 21.95,  describing them as “a simple, convenient, pocket-sized device to help defend against most flying seatbacks. And because Knee Defenders are adjustable, you can generally set them to provide only as much protection as you need.” unnamed (21)

Most airline seats are built to recline, and objections by passengers to people in front reclining into “their space” lead to frequent in-flight arguments.

In the latest case, a United flight had to be diverted and two passengers removed after one started a fight over the devices, the Guardian has reported.

The altercation took place on United Airlines flight 1462 from Newark to Denver, allegedly because a male passenger seated in a middle seat applied the gadgets to his meal tray to stop the woman in front of him reclining.

The man wanted to use his laptop. According to the Guardian report, a  flight attendant asked the man to remove the Knee Defenders and he refused. The woman then stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water at him.

The dispute escalated to the point where the pilot decided to divert to Chicago’s O’Hare international airport, according to Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  spokesman Ross Feinstein.

Chicago police and TSA officers met the flight, spoke to the passengers but declined to charge them, seeing it as more of a customer service issue.

Both passengers had been sitting in United’s “economy plus” section, which advertises four more inches of legroom, the paper said. United Airlines says it prohibits the use of Knee Defenders, which are described by the promoters as “a truly practical travel accessory.

“It helps you defend the space you need when confronted by a faceless, determined seat recliner who doesn’t care how long your legs are or about anything else that might be ‘back there’,” the advertisers claim.

Then again, those who like to recline their seats in flight might well consider that they paid for the ability to do that when they purchased the ticket. That’s how the fights start.


Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. railWise says:

    Best invention ever! Can I be the Australian distributor please? Far too many people automatically assume – with the full co-operation of the carriers – that they have the absolute right to violate the meager amount of space allocated by the airline to the passenger seated behind them, even though this is barely adequate in the first place. Of particular concern is the latest Qantas proposal to add extra seats to their 737-838 aircraft – not only will this make them ergonomic torture devices in any case [strange for a self-professed “full service” carrier in the first place], but will also disrupt more passengers – or even trap them – when some unfortunate needs to visit the lavatory [let’s hope that they manage to get out in time!]. Quite apart from space considerations per passenger, why do aircraft used on day-time flights of short or medium duration need to have reclining seats in any case? One airline – I think it was Ryanair – discontinued using them on the pretext that they represented an unnecessary maintenance expense – Qantas take note; here is a way in which you can cut costs without forcing the majority of passengers to be imprisoned in claustrophobic rows resembling battery hens.

  2. Loraine Smith says:

    Totally agree having been pinned against my seat so that I could not even use my tray for meals, plug in headphones or TV for 18 hours of a 23 hour flight from Melbourne to London (Qantas/BA) by a selfish large business man.

    The steward refused to even waken him at mealtimes, so I was unable to eat.

    I want this gadget and will be using it.

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