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Knee Defender Spat on Diverted Flight to Denver: Who's the Bigger A$$hole?

Categories: News

no.leg.room.565x300.jpg
The in-air spat that took place on a Denver-bound flight this weekend presents a classic conundrum.

The question: Who's the bigger asshole -- the guy who used a device called the Knee Defender to prevent the person sitting in front of him from reclining into his work space or the woman who responded to the situation so angrily that the flight had to be diverted.

See also: William Breathes's DIA Hell Night: How Not to Travel Home in a Thunderstorm

What is the Knee Defender? According to the Gadget Duck website, which sells the items for $21.95 per pair, it's a "unique...truly practical travel accessory" that "helps you defend the space you need when confronted by a faceless, determined seat recliner who doesn't care how long your legs are or about anything else that might be 'back there.'"

Here's a look at the items, as seen in a 2013 Core77 post:

knee.defender.1.jpg
The clips attach to a tray table when it's folded down, as seen in another Core77 image:

knee.defender.2.jpg
Placing the clamps in these spots prevents the seat from reclining -- but it could also potentially miff the person forced to remain bolt upright for the remainder of the flight. Hence, the Knee Defender folks have created a "courtesy card" to give passengers wondering what's up. Here it is:

knee.defender.courtesy.card.jpg
The Associated Press story about a United flight from Newark to Denver on Sunday makes no mention of such a card -- or courtesy of any type, really.

According to the AP, an unnamed man used the Knee Defender, upsetting the woman in front of him. She complained to a flight attendant, who asked the guy to take off the clips; they're prohibited by United and most airlines other than Spirit and Allegiant, which don't use seats that recline, period. When he refused, the woman reportedly expressed her displeasure by throwing a cup of water on him, prompting the crew to head to Chicago instead of Denver.

Bonus irony: The pair were seated in United's Economy Plus section, which more leg room than coach -- four inches worth!

When the plane took off again, neither the man nor the woman were on it. And while their names haven't been made public and FAA fines seem unlikely, word of their dust-up is traveling far and wide, even becoming a topic on the Today show, as seen in the video below.

Clearly, this story has legs. Check out the Today conversation here.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.


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139 comments
Clayton Loden
Clayton Loden

If those tall people feel that economy seats won't suffice and must resort to re-engineering the chair in front. Yes.

Audrey Strong
Audrey Strong

Maybe a tall person can't afford first class. They shouldn't be penalized for being tall. It isn't their fault.

Audrey Strong
Audrey Strong

So tall people, who have a physical characteristic that can't be modified, should have to buy a more expensive seat? No.

Jonah Menzies
Jonah Menzies

The people wanted low cost. They got less than what they bargained for.

Tea Bone
Tea Bone

you shouldn't use these things because it's like tampering with an airplane... the real assholes are just airlines for not giving anybody adequate knee space

Sean Nallen
Sean Nallen

As a tall person that lady is a bitch. The seats should be designed to size anyway. Just because I'm tall why should I have to pay double to sit in first class for a necessity

Mike Konig
Mike Konig

You write for a living and don't know what begging the question means. Haha

Jay Breese
Jay Breese

Why isn't anyone blaming the greedy airlines for not providing enough space to sit comfortably?

Tai Kahn
Tai Kahn

If you can afford those buy a real seat with leg room -- use those behind me and we will probably be landing in some random city with a plane full of pissed of people.

Jake Heym
Jake Heym

the real question to ask is... Did the man who used the knee defender put his seat back?

William Lynn Dixon
William Lynn Dixon

Fix this by eliminating reclining seats. Those of us with lower back issues don't use them anyway.

Kathryn Rogers
Kathryn Rogers

What ever happened to manners? Just ask or give a heads up if your legs are that long? #firstworldproblems

Breanna Allen
Breanna Allen

So they both paid for the extra 4 inches....if you need more go to 1st class. Don't mess with someone else's space cause your cheap. Just saying....

Cecelia Lankutis
Cecelia Lankutis

guess I'm really really old school. It's a temporary situation. put up with a little discomfort in order to be considerate of others. Life doesn't revolve around you. If you can afford a lifestyle where you fly a lot, you don't really have anything to complain about. I know a lot of people with more at stake than just a couple hours of minor inconvenience. Get over yourselves!

Will Archambault
Will Archambault

What if I told you if you recline your seat you'll have the exact same amount of space

Josh Sauer
Josh Sauer

Oh, Westword! Always on top of the leading news stories. How would we manage without your intriguing feeds!?

Lawrence Hardy
Lawrence Hardy

who ever wrote this article must be very short. I am only 5 eight. I had the misfortune to sit behind someone who leaned their chair all the way back. For three hours I had to crawl out of my chair to use it. The person in front refused to budge.

DougHubka
DougHubka

I have heard that United has disallowed these devices as their seats are designed to recline and everyone knows that. If that is the case, then the guy using it is definitely the a$$hole in this.

He knows it was wrong, yet thought his personal convenience is all that matters and to hell with what anyone else wants. Not that we don't see a lot of that these days.


Amanda McGregor
Amanda McGregor

I don't really think throwing a drink is very ladylike either.

Daisy Rothschild
Daisy Rothschild

Hear hear. And it could seriously hurt someone's low back, so many people have sciatica or blown discs.

Sara Conrad
Sara Conrad

FYI, both passengers had paid extra for legroom.

Jim Swain
Jim Swain

I'm six foot five and no one who sits in front of me can recline their seat. There is just not enough room!!

Chris Tree Williams
Chris Tree Williams

Remember when men would stand and offer their seats to a lady who needed one?

Clay Wise
Clay Wise

Sounds like something George Costanza from Seinfeld would use. Lol Seriously I'd be pissed off if someone behind me used those. If you have to have more leg room then don't be a cheap bastard. Buy a ticket for an upgraded seat.

Clayton Loden
Clayton Loden

If you need extra legroom that badly then purchase a stretched seating or business class ticket. The seat is designed to recline and the lady is well within her rights to recline the seat that she paid for.

Stas Prusik
Stas Prusik

Rick Baiotto Jesse James Baiotto Reynaldo Rodriguez

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Breaking News  -- Inching into another passenger's knee space has some fliers itching for a fight.

In the second serious airline legroom argument reported this week, a reportedly irate passenger caused a flight from Miami to Paris to divert to Boston on Wednesday.

Paris resident Edmund Alexandre, 60, was charged in U.S. federal court Thursday with interfering with an airline flight crew. Interfering with flight crew members is a violation of federal law and carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. 


About two hours after American Airlines Flight 62 had departed Miami on Wednesday, Alexandre allegedly "began arguing with another passenger and became disruptive," according to a press statement from Carmen Ortiz, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. Alexandre was also charged under state law.

After a crew member asked him to calm down and walked away, "Alexandre allegedly began raising his voice again, followed the crew member towards the back of the plane, and grabbed the crew member's arm," according to Ortiz's statement.


At that time federal air marshals on the flight broke cover and subdued and restrained Alexandre, according to an FBI agent's affidavit. The flight was diverted to Boston Logan International Airport, where he was arrested.

Alexandre complained of high blood pressure and issues with diabetes, according

DerpMcDerpston
DerpMcDerpston

"Any person who interferes with or threatens to interfere with the operation of any aircraft, unless he is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration or the armed forces of the United States, on or over the territory of the Commonwealth shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. "

Sam Waters
Sam Waters

I'm 6' 4" and about to board a plane to Denver...soooo wish I had a knee defender. Those things are genius! Just have to remember to wear a rain jacket I guess :P

Mikael Padilla
Mikael Padilla

If you are tall pay for a seat that has more legroom Either that or sit behind the exit row those seats do not recline.. I fly a ton and if some asshole put those on his seat I would punch him in the throat when we got off the plane Fucking stupid

Legen Dairy
Legen Dairy

Go back in your protected world kacy.

Legen Dairy
Legen Dairy

Yes she should of thrown water on him. I will admit it I would of got physical which would of been a bad idea. Using the knee defender is a dick move. And the fact that its banned by airlines makes him an even bigger dick.

cahlers
cahlers

I believe the biggest a$$hole is the guy who invented and sells this device. He tries to masquerade the fact that it is an a$$hole device by providing a "polite card" with it. If a person is polite, they ask the person in front to please not recline so much since it bangs on his/her knees. It usually works. But if it does not, you do not have a dictatorial right to hamper a working part of the plane and interfere with another passenger's reclining seat.

The next biggest a$$hole is the guy who (1) used the device selfishly, (2) refused to remove it when the lady asked him to, and (3) refused to remove it when the flight attendant instructed him to remove it.

I congratulate the lady who had the courage to insist and eventually make a statement by throwing water on the second biggest a$$hole. She did a service to all future victims of the biggest a$$hole's device. I believe most airlines will ban their use and the FAA will provide a fine for passengers refusing to comply with flight attendant instructions.

Kacy Thompson
Kacy Thompson

I don't appreciate the language of this headline. Please just write about the incident.

David Michael Sânchéz
David Michael Sânchéz

Felicia McBain, What does Colorado pride have to do with being a passive aggressive ass?

Kevin Kline
Kevin Kline

Im 6'4 and cramped on a plane so I get pissed when some asshat wants to jam their seat in my knees. Buy a neck pillow and suck it up

samhulin
samhulin

Remember when women showed appreciation for chivalry rather than offense? I don't. 

samhulin
samhulin

Height is no excuse to be a jackass. People are looking for these things now, I would suggest you refrain from obtaining them or you just might get thrown off the plane - or worse. 

DerpMcDerpston
DerpMcDerpston

Douche.  Buy a first class ticket.  If anyone uses one of those on my seat, I'm complaining to the flight attendant, and you HAVE to remove it if they tell you to.

Joefox32
Joefox32

*would have, not would of.


You appear uneducated when you can't use common phrases correctly.


My favorite:


Your Retarded.


Sincerely,


Grammar Nazi (until someone points out an error in my post. GO!)

DougHubka
DougHubka

Kacy, you have to remember that times are tough in the news business. Headlines are written by17 year old interns that  are told to get your attention, so people like you and  will click on the link. It does seem to wok

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Agreed. 


Michael should stop being such a limp-wristed cunt and simply spell ASSHOLE correctly.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... buy a First Class ticket or TAKE A BUS, you oversized freak.

DarlingCR
DarlingCR

@DonkeyHotay best donkeyhotay comment yet... I'm a pothead so I hate your other posts... But keep these coming. 

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