United Flight Diverted after Fight Erupts Over Knee Defender Gadget

What’s a little extra legroom worth? A gadget called the Knee Defender – which prevents the seat in front of you from reclining – costs just $21.95, but can also cost you your seat as a couple of passengers on a United flight discovered this past Sunday.

Important note: FareCompare has some humorous video of the Knee Defender in action below, but please note this 2007 demonstration by two employees was just for fun. FareCompare does not endorse this product (or any other) nor do we ever recommend using a Knee Defender. If you’re wondering about the employees’ costumes, both fellows were on a Christmastime publicity tour.

5 ways to deal with bad passengers

Gadget Diverts Flight

According to the Associated Press, a male passenger aboard United’s Newark to Denver flight decided to use a Knee Defender to prevent the seat in front of him from reclining while he worked on his laptop. Here’s the rest of the story, per the AP which quotes an unnamed law enforcement official:

“A flight attendant asked him to remove the device and he refused. The woman [in the seat in front of him] then stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water at him, the official says. That’s when United decided to land in Chicago.”

Travel expert and FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney said, “It sounds a bit like the Alec Baldwin snafu of a few years back, when the actor refused to turn off his electronic device on an American flight awaiting take-off, when such things weren’t allowed.”

Back in Chicago, the diverted United flight eventually took off for Denver, minus the two squabbling passengers. There were no arrests. Here’s a surprise: Both passengers were seated in the aircraft’s Economy Plus section which offers more legroom than regular coach seats.

What You Can Do

If this ever happens to you, or you find yourself seated next to an unreasonable passenger, try conversation first. If that doesn’t work, press the call button and speak to a flight attendant. Most airlines don’t allow the use of Knee Defenders on planes.

VIDEO: Playful demonstration of an anti-reclining device. Do not try this on your flight.


Published: August 26, 2014