A United flight from Newark, NJ to Denver, CO was diverted to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after two passengers got into an altercation over personal space, thanks to a device that wouldn’t let one passenger recline her seat back.
During the flight (which lasts less than four hours) a man seated in the Economy Plus section (which offers four more inches of legroom) was reportedly using a $21.95 gadget called a “Knee Defender” (he’s so fancy, you already know). The device protects knees and and legs on airplane seats by blocking the person in front of them from reclining.
While the Federal Aviation Administration does not prohibit the use of the Knee Defender, United, like most other major U.S. airlines, bans the device and others like it. “We do not allow customers to use devices that prevent seats from reclining,” said United Airlines spokesman Charles Hobart via e-mail.
After the male passenger refused to discontinue the use of the device when asked by a flight attendant, the very ornery (and rightfully so) woman sitting in front of the passenger threw a cup of water at him, starting an altercation that caused the crew to decide to land the plane in Chicago, where the two were escorted off the plane. Neither person was arrested as the situation “was deemed a customer service issue and not a threat to aviation security,” said Transportation Security Administration spokesman Ross Feinstein.
Ira Goldman, the inventor of the Knee Defender, said that nothing like this has ever happened when using his device and “United could make seats that do not recline, but they have not chosen to do so. In the meantime, the Knee Defender says right on it: ‘Be courteous. Do not hog space. Listen to the flight crew.’ Apparently that is not what happened here.”
Gotta give it up to the guy for trying and using a Knee Defender device, but if you want to get to your destination on time and, well, dry, do yourself a favor and just listen to the flight crew. And don’t be a dick.
[via USA Today]