A plane diverted over a reclining seat safely made its way to its destination after dropping off the offending passengers. It all started when a man on a United Airlines flight used a pair of small brackets called a Knee Defender to prevent the female passenger seated in front of him from reclining her seat back into his space. According to MSN, the device has already been banned by all major United States airlines.
When a stewardess asked the man to remove the plastic Knee Defender brackets so his fellow passenger could recline, he refused. In response, the irate woman reportedly tossed a glass of water in his face. The identities of the man and the woman involved in the incident have not been revealed. 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.
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.
A quick check of the Gadget Duck website this afternoon shows that they are currently experiencing unexpectedly heavy demand. However, 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. 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 earlier today, before news of the incident went viral.
Ira Goldman is the inventor of the Knee Defender. He told ABC that the product has been on the market for more than a decade, but this is the first time a plane was diverted over a reclining seat blocked by the brackets. The invention was created so passengers could preserve their personal space, not invade others. The Knee Defender does not earn the user any additional legroom. It simply prevents another passenger from dropping his or her seat into a reclining position and minimizing the legroom the rear passenger had to begin with.