A fight over just a few additional inches of extra legroom on United Airlines flight 1462 quickly made headlines around the globe yesterday, primarily because we’ve all been shoe-horned into those unbearably narrow seats for hours at a time and we can relate to the desperate need for more space. The kerfuffle, as told to the Associated Press, occurred when an unnamed man and woman began fighting when she was unable to recline her seat.
She was blocked from reclining because the man sitting behind her used a product called Knee Defender. It’s a $21.95 lock that attaches to a tray table preventing the seat in front of you from reclining. A flight attendant asked the man to remove the device. He refused. The woman stood up and tossed a glass of water in his face.
As a result of the fight, the flight from Newark to Denver landed in Chicago. The two offending parties were booted from the plane in Chicago and were spoken to by the Chicago Police and TSA. There were no arrests.
My reaction upon reading the story was not anger toward the man preventing the recline, it was “How come I’ve never heard of a Knee Defender, and where can I get one?” I’m not the only one. After the story made national news, the gadget’s website crashed. The Knee Defender is made up of two wedges with rubber grips that attach to the seat tray. Once it’s in place, the person in front of you cannot recline.
The Defender even comes with a courtesy card for your fellow blocked passenger which reads: “I realize that this may be an inconvenience. If so, I hope you will complain to the airline. Maybe working together we can convince the airlines to provide enough space between rows so that people can recline their seats without banging into other passengers.”
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