Creator of Controversial Knee Defender Defends His Device

The controversial Knee Defender, which prohibits airline passengers from reclining.
The controversial Knee Defender, which prohibits airline passengers from reclining.
GadgetDuck.com

The travel world has been buzzing about a gadget called the Knee Defender.

It’s a $21.95 device that attaches to the seatback in front of you and prevents that traveler from reclining, leaving more room for your knees.

The gadget was the reason behind a scuffle in the skies this past weekend on a United Airlines flight after a man used it to stop the woman in front of him from reclining. She became so frustrated she threw water on him. The Denver-bound plane was then diverted to Chicago, where both passengers were met with police. There were no arrests. The Federal Aviation Administration leaves it up to individual airlines to decide whether the device may be used during flight, but United and all major U.S. airlines have banned it,reports the Associated Press. Australian airlines Qantas, Virgin, and Jetstar have banned it as well, according to the Daily Mail, which also reports sales have soared for the Knee Defender since Sunday’s incident.

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Does a passenger have the right to take reclining privileges away from another passenger? Absolutely, says Knee Defender creator Ira Goldman, who told CBS News “Nobody wants to buy this product, nobody wants to carry it around with them and deploy it for giggles. They do it because they’ve encountered problems, and they want to resolve it as best they can.”

But Josh Barro at nytimes.com disagrees, saying when you buy a plane ticket you are also buying the right to recline. Barro said he’s seen a “distressing amount of sympathy” for the Knee Defender. His proposal? Bribery.

“I fly a lot. When I fly, I recline. I don’t feel guilty about it. And I’m going to keep doing it, unless you pay me to stop,” wrote Barro.

Would you accept money to stop reclining?