Knee Defenders got some free publicity following a midair quarrel between two United Airlines passengers after one of them used the clever plastic device to avoid losing precious legroom during the flight, as reported by FOX News. Now the website Gadget Duck, which sells the product, is inaccessible. Earlier today, the site was reportedly experiencing heavier volume than usual. A message on the site advised customers to wait through any delays experienced with the online shopping cart due to the heavy volume.
The incident that brought Knee Defenders into the public eye took place on Sun., Aug. 24, 2014 when an unidentified 48-year-old man secured the device, which is actually a pair of brackets, to the tray mounted on the back of a female passenger's seat. When the 48-year-old woman attempted to recline, the $21.95 brackets sold by Gadget Duck prevented her from doing so. A flight attendant got involved and asked the man to remove the device. He refused.
After the man declined to disengage the Knee Defenders and allow the female passenger to recline, the irate woman allegedly threw a glass of water in his face. The flight from Newark to Denver touched down in Chicago to discharge the two unruly passengers. Police and TSA officers met the flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, where authorities deemed the incident a customer service issue. No arrests were made, but the feuding passengers were not permitted to get back on the plane.
According to the Gadget Duck website, which sells the Knee Defender, this clever little device "helps you stop reclining seats on airplanes so your knees won't have to." The site also notes that the product "is also valued by airline passengers with small children, 'road warriors' who need to work while flying, and any traveler who simply does not like being hit by a reclining airplane seat. . . . We all like legroom when we fly, but as airlines have reduced legroom the reclining-seat problem has gotten worse – less legroom, more encounters with seatbacks." They can add one plane diverted over a reclining seat to the list of related problems.
NBC News offered this tongue-in-cheek description of how Knee Defenders work. "Pull the tray table down, place the doo-dads on the legs of the tray table and watch as the person in front of you screams obscenities because his or her seat won’t recline." Knee Defenders have already been banned by all major United States airlines.
A check of the Gadget Duck website earlier this afternoon showed that they were experiencing unexpectedly heavy demand. Now the website is inaccessible and showing an error message. It isn't clear whether the increase in demand has been caused by the multiple news headlines about the plane diverted over a reclining seat and Knee Defenders, but it's entirely possible that the episode has provided the best word-of-mouth advertising for the company. The message about heavier-than-average demand was not displayed on the site early this morning, before news of the incident went viral.
UPDATE: The site is now accessible.