Patterico's Pontifications


“Knee Defender” Argument Diverts Plane

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:09 am

First-world problems:

An argument over legroom on a weekend flight led United Airlines to divert a plane to Chicago and call authorities, the airline said Tuesday.

United Airlines Flight 1462 was en route from Newark, N.J., to Denver Sunday afternoon when there was a disturbance between two passengers, a spokesman for the airline said.

According to Chicago police, a 47-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman sitting in front of him got into an altercation after the female passenger realized she could not recline her seat.

The Associated Press reported that the man was using the Knee Defender, a plastic device that clips onto the tray table and prevents the seat ahead from reclining back.

The argument became so heated that the woman threw a cup of water at the man, Chicago Police Officer Janel Sedevic said.

I’m not a fan of reclining seats generally, but airlines have them, and allow passengers to use them. If it’s really important for you to do some work, you could ask the person in front of you if they wouldn’t mind sitting up enough for you to see your screen. Probably they will accommodate you, but if they don’t, that’s life. Put the laptop on your lap, get a first-class seat, do your work on an iPad, or come up with some other solution.

32 Responses to ““Knee Defender” Argument Diverts Plane”

  1. That knee defender almost guarantees a confrontation. No confrontation of this sort in a public place ever goes off well.

    Denver Todd (831352)

  2. New Jersey. Say no more.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. i don’t work on planes

    I don’t ever want to be the guy who works on planes

    it’s just not who I want to be

    and you know what that’s ok

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  4. I like this version of First World Problems 😉

    pkudude99 (3ba72b)

  5. “Some other solution” is the knee defender.

    Dejectedhead (a094a6)

  6. Greetings:

    You forgot “Try to be less than six feet tall.” in your suggestions.

    11B40 (6abb5c)

  7. Probably they will accommodate you, but if they don’t, that’s life. Put the laptop on your lap, get a first-class seat, do your work on an iPad, or come up with some other solution.

    Oh stop it. How dare you suggest that two adults work out a compromise? Everyone knows that this calls for Congressional legislation which will either ban the Knee Defender or greatly restrict its usage. It will also restrict the “reclining period” allowed on a domestic flight to no more than 40% of the total flight time, 55% for international flights. Airlines will be required to install “trigger locks” into the seats which prevent the seat from being reclined at certain portions of the flight.

    And perhaps we can finally institute capital — er, I mean corporal — punishment for small children and clueless adults who spend the flight kneeing or kicking the seat in front of them.

    JVW (638245)

  8. JVW,

    I think you’re reading this all wrong.

    Clearly, it will be argued that people have seat reclining rights protected by the Constitution.

    Dejectedhead (a094a6)

  9. Dejectedhead: As the famous saying goes, your right to recline your seat ends at my kneecap. See you in court.

    JVW (638245)

  10. JVW, You’ll be forced to pay for 2 seats. One for your butt and one for your knees.

    I don’t see how a court could decide any other way. Only a Nazi would force people to not recline their seat.

    Dejectedhead (a094a6)

  11. Missing from all of these accounts is the height of the person who was using the Knee Defenders.

    As a 6’5″ individual who cannot afford to fly first class… years ago I picked up a pair of Knee Defenders and swear by them on the rare occasion that I fly

    Regardless of recline position my knees make contact with the seat in front of me. When someone sits down there we get a bit of pressure, and the moment I look away and they hit there button and try to recline a few times with force… I am in a great deal of pain.

    In my case, the Knee Defenders simply prevent the person from assaulting my knees.

    Leg room is one of the many reasons I avoid flying whenever possible and simply drive. This year I did a 3500 mile road trip with the wife & 2 year old. Last year it was closer to 4000 miles.

    Brendan (dce2f6)

  12. Airlines should allow people to change seats, perhaps for a price.

    Sammy Finkelman (7d0d47)

  13. Only a Nazi would force people to not recline their seat.

    Au contraire, Dejectedhead — everyone knows that Hitler was pro-reclining.


    JVW (638245)

  14. Actually, the airline caused this by putting rows of seats too close together. If the airline is going to put in reclining seats, then they should be made to leave enough room for the seats to recline without banging the passenger behind that seat.

    I say both ejected passengers are due a 1st class ticket for a similiar or not identical trip.

    That’ll teach the greedy bastards.

    PCD (39058b)

  15. The idea that the “right to recline” overrides the “right not to be squashed” is absurd. The rights should be symmetric. The existence of a seat that declines no more grants that right than a steering wheel gives a driver a right to roll over the sidewalk,

    John Moore (ac5430)

  16. my feeling has always been that reclining at night is ok

    but reclining in the daytime means you’re dealing with one of those idiot people

    the kind what leave the windows open in full blazing august sunshine in phoenix

    the kind what pull out homemade tuna salad

    the kind what take off their shoes

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  17. I got upgraded to First Class once and flew in a cabin with Val Kilmer. Val Kilmer is the sort of dude that purchases a First Class seat and also the First Class seat next to him so that people like you can’t sit there and yammer on to Val Kilmer telling him how much you loved him in Tombstone and thought he was a better Batman than Clooney but, come on, what were you doing in the Island of Dr. Moreau — was it just about getting to work with Brando?

    So anyway, I’m going to do a Val Kilmer in Coach. I’ll sit in my favorite 31A seat, but I’ll also buy 30A in front of me and 32A behind me so that I am free to lean back as much as the seat will allow, but I don’t have to worry about someone doing that to me. But it’s cool: I’ll still talk to the people in 31B and 31C, especially if they want to hear about my experience flying in First Class with Val Kilmer.

    JVW (638245)

  18. Dear god, you recline, the other person reclines. Problem solved.

    You got an Emergency Row Seat? Tuff crap.

    But what that guy did was wrong. He was taking away someone else’s right in order to help himself. And what makes it a “right” is the airline sold her that seat.

    If he was that concerned then he should request an Emergency Row seat such that the row in front of you can’t recline.

    Rodney King's Spirit (8b9b5a)

  19. … and I am 6″2, 250. I don’t want to hear it from the space hogs.

    You know what you bought when you got on board. Sticking clamps onto the other to restrict their movement is a douche maneuver.

    Rodney King's Spirit (8b9b5a)

  20. I look forward to the day when all the world only has “First World Problems.”

    Lorem Ipsum (cee048)

  21. On an airplane there are definite benefits to being short. It helps with that seat reclining business and also with the standing up under the overhead compartment business.

    elissa (0f74b5)

  22. It should be noted that this story did not take place in Coach.

    Dejectedhead (a094a6)

  23. oh.

    that changes everything

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  24. This was in an extra-legroom part of the plane.

    Patterico (9c670f)

  25. You contradict yourself Rodney King’s Spirit:

    … and I am 6″2, 250. I don’t want to hear it from the space hogs.

    Given both exit row and far rear seats do not recline, the only ‘space hogs’ are those who recline are in fact taking up more space than those who do not (except for when all parties recline (which again, is impossible)).

    You are apparently very fortunate that a reclining seat does not cause you a great deal of pain… not all of us are so… Knee Defenders simply allow us to hold on to what little space we have without it being intruded upon.

    You know what you bought when you got on board.

    And that excuses things… how? (ignoring the nonsensical ordering of events)

    Sticking clamps onto the other to restrict their movement is a douche maneuver.

    In first class… maybe, but for those who ride in cattle, what do you say of those who recline and cause physical pain to those behind?

    I’ve had people hit the button, lean back, realize they weren’t moving and then throw their fully body weight into it multiple times to see what was going on… only then to see my knees impacted into the back of the seat and me trying to avoid screaming.

    Did I know what I was getting when I bought the ticket?

    I once had a rather short gal try to recline during taxiing, realize the impossibility of it after seeing my knees and me explaining things to her complain to the flight attendant once we were airborne that her seat seemed to be broken… after demonstrating the issue several times. I was switched to another seat, behind a uniformed marine who somehow successfully leaned back a short time later (and not someone I’m going to complain about)… I was only able to survive by expanding into the isle (much to the frustration of the flight crew who kept running into me with the drink cart) and an empty seat next to my new one.

    I had bruised on my knees for the next week. Did I know what I was getting when I bought that ticket?

    No, those who recline without consideration of those whose space they will be intruding are the ones engaging in a ‘douche maneuver’ as you put it.

    Brendan (dce2f6)

  26. Well, since this is the area where we rant about flying let me add this:

    Flying coach has become a miserable experience. As everyone is talking about here, legroom is horrible for anyone taller than six feet and the seats today are way too narrow for 21st Century size American butts. People dress like absolute slobs on airlines these days — I know undressing at the security checkpoint sucks but please, people, stop wearing your damn sweats and pajamas on the plane. The flight attendants can hardly be bothered to come by and give you your six ounces of warm Sprite and a one ounce pack of pretzels, and if you ring the call button to ask for a refill they treat you like you just asked for a six-course dinner. If you are on a three-hour flight or longer you get the privilege of buying a tiny oversized sandwich or snack box which couldn’t even satiate a small child. Your fellow passengers are surly and rude: most of them are trying to stuff oversized bags (which they should never have been allowed to carry on) into the tiny compartments and at the same time acting miffed that their huge second carry-on doesn’t fit underneath their seat. Babies are crying and the toddlers sitting directly behind you like to kick your seat while their mom actively declines to pay attention. De-planing is like a Bataan Death March as you wait for people to retrieve their overhead belongings (which are often too heavy for them to remove themselves) and their other three carry-ons before you can get into the aisle and work your way off the plane.

    But you know what? I like being able to fly to the East Coast for under $400, and occasionally finding a Los Angeles to Europe fare for around $800. When you think about it, it really is amazing that you can wake up early in the morning in Los Angeles and manage to be in Paris early the next morning. Better yet, you can leave Paris in the early afternoon and be home in Los Angeles by the early evening. So while I wish the flying experience could be a bit better, I do sort of understand that you get what you pay for. If I could afford to travel Business Class or First Class all of the time, I most certainly would.

    JVW (638245)

  27. oh. but not first class

    but still a place where people have heightened entitlement issues

    flying is so gross is all i know

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  28. Brendan,

    Here’s another debate

    EPWJ (68f58f)

  29. There are some situations where speed of arrival or destinations where geographic/oceanographic forms make it necessary to fly. A lot of people I know, tired of being treated like criminals or cattle at the airports, have taken to driving on vacations again, though, and are enjoying the experience of going at their own pace and traveling under more pleasant and civilized conditions all around.

    See the USA in your Chevrolet!

    elissa (ae8c05)

  30. Yes, elissa… if more people would start driving for their trips maybe we would see a comeback for the Giant Orange and the roadside snake & lizard museums. Now that is travel.

    @26- all those reason why I find it restful to stay home and take care of the horses. Vacations are overrated.

    Gramps, the original (d40b0b)

  31. 21. On an airplane there are definite benefits to being short…

    elissa (0f74b5) — 8/27/2014 @ 3:43 pm

    On ships, too. I never knocked myself out hitting my head against the the hatch or overhead running to quarters. Because I’m short.

    Taller guys didn’t fare that well.

    As for this, I recall almost coming to blows with a guy behind me on a flight from Dulles to Johannesburg. It was a long, crowded, miserable flight. Actually by the time I got to Dulles I’d already had a long day. So when the lady in front of me reclined her seat into my lap, I reclined my seat. The guy behind me had a problem with me doing what I had paid for; reclining my reclining seat. We had words. I reclined my #$!^ing seat.

    I actually saw his POV, but I don’t design this crap and I don’t run the airlines. There was just no way I was flying to South Africa with the lady in front of me in my lap, sitting perfectly upright to suit the guy behind me.

    Steve57 (99bd31)

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