After “that incident” on United Airlines this week, the Knee Defender, a gadget that blocks airplane seats from reclining, has seen a boost in sales. It’s website crashed yesterday under the weight of orders for the $US21.95 Knee defender! The device consists of two clips that slip onto the seatback tray.
The incident, occurred, on United Flight 1462 from Newark, New Jersey to Denver, Colorado. A male passenger (48 years old), seated in a middle seat of row 12 used the Knee Defender to stop the female passenger (also aged 48) in the seat in front of him reclining. Ironically they were seated in the 737′s Economy Plus section which has 35″ leg room compared to 31″ in regular Economy.
The female again asked him to allow her to recline her seat and he refused. She then appealed for help from a flight attendant who asked the male to remove the device. He again refused. At this time, the woman stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water over the male. The pilot then diverted the plane to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and both passengers were deplaned. Flight 1462 continued onto Denver arriving 1 hour and 38 minutes late.
I am wondering if there really has been a spate of bad behaviour on planes this year or are we reporting it more?
I personally hate reclining seats. They made sense in the old days when we had 36 to 40 inches between seats but in today’s environment when airlines have cut us back to 29, 30 or 31 inches, they are an anachronism. When in Economy, I choose seats in exit rows or the front row to avoid being subjected to the possibility of someone pushing their seat back onto my 185cm (6’1″ frame). I don’t recline unless I have no one behind me or I am “up front”. I feel sorry for the people behind me.
Clearly, if these knee defender sales are any indication, other passengers feel the same. In fact, a survey of 1,000 passengers by Skyscanner last year found that 91 per cent of passengers would like to see reclining seats banned on flights. Some airlines (Monarch, Ryanair, Spirit and Allegiant, for example) have removed reclining seats from their planes or disabled the mechanisms. In the meantime, the four largest U.S. airlines – American Airlines, Delta, Southwest and United all ban the use of the Knee Defender. That ban seems to have been irrelevant in the case of flight 1492.
Do you want to see reclining seats removed? Or will you buy a knee defender?