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Air rage over the Knee Defender: 6 things about the device

Published on Aug 27, 2014 10:10 AM
The Knee Defender, a set of plastic wedges that slip onto the legs of your tray table and physically prevent the seat in front of you from reclining. -- PHOTO: 1.BP.BLOGSPOT.COM

On August 26, it was reported that a United States plane had to be diverted after an argument broke out over a passenger's use of a Knee Defender. Originally slated to land in Denver, the United Airlines flight was forced to stop in Chicago, where authorities addressed the problem.

Here are 6 things about the device that caused the ruckus.

1. What is a Knee Defender?

A nifty - or annoying, depending on how you see it - pocket-size device, Knee Defenders are basically sturdy plastic clips.

Costing US$21.95 (S$27.41), they come in a set of two, and exist to protect the sacred ground that is an airline passenger's leg room.

Opinion on the Knee Defender is varied - some, especially tall people, adore it, while others have taken to label it as plain rude.

2. Sounds interesting. How is it used?

Preserving your leg room has never been easier.

Users first extend the seat table in front of them, before proceeding to clip one Knee Defender onto each of the table's arms.

The Knee Defender can then be slid up and down the table arm, effectively allowing the user to "control" how far the seat in front can recline.

The closer the Knee Defender is to the seat in front, the less reclining leeway the seat will have.

To top it off, the Knee Defender website even has a printable "Courtesy Card", which manufacturers suggest the user passing to the passenger sitting in front, to inform him or her about the upcoming failure of their seat's recline feature.

3. Why would I need such a device?

Aside from the obvious comfort of having sufficient leg room, the space that a Knee Defender gives can be used to, according to the product's website, work on one's laptop or engage in anti-deep vein thrombosis (DVT) exercises.

DVT, also known as Economy Class Syndrome, is a medical condition whereby a potentially dangerous blood clot develops in a person, as a result of limited space or movement.

Of course, whether or not the Knee Defender is the best solution to these problems is another contentious topic.

4. Who invented it?

Ira Goldman, a 1.93m tall Washington DC resident who wanted to help fellow tall airline passengers deal with the problem of being "bashed in the knees over and over again".

He first marketed the product in 2003.

5. What are airlines' policies over its use?

News reports regarding the Knee Defender stem mostly from the US, although its manufacturer's website claims to have purchases from the "7 continents".

According to an article in the BBC, the US Federal Aviation Administration has yet to ban the gadget, although most major US airlines, such as United Airlines, have.

6. Where can I buy one?

Do you think the Knee Defender is for you? Are you ready to accept the death stares or scowls of disapproval that might result from your using  it?

If your answer is "yes", then visit