The Next Delusion

Seeing Reality and Looking the Other Way

Throwdown Thursday: Knee Defender Edition

A United Airlines flight was diverted this week after two passengers got in a fight over the use of a device called “The Knee Defender.”  Apparently, this device (only $22!) attaches to your tray table and prevents the passenger in front of you from reclining into your 6 inches of airline-allocated personal space.  I think this is a great invention, on par with noise cancelling headphones and that little thing Levenger sells which opens your CD cases easily.  Back when you had CD cases. Momus, bafflingly, disagrees:

Cassandra: How can you not get behind a device which keeps the jerk in front of you out of your personal space? If I had only known about the Knee Defender, I could have saved much wear and tear on my actual knees which I usually just jam into the back of anyone trying to recline in front of me.

Momus: So now on a 6 hour cross-country red-eye flight, I must sit bolt upright in those comfy torture devices so that someone in back of me won’t have their Candy Crush game jostled?  The heck with seats, just strap us all onto slabs of plywood and stack us up in the cargo section. By the way, the Knee Defender Nazi on this flight was actually sitting in the Economy- Plus-an-extra-4-inches-of-legroom section. Not enough for him apparently.

Cassandra: Maybe he was really tall. As a person with long legs, I can tell you that when the person in front of you reclines, there is nowhere left for your legs to go. I’d rather be stacked up in the cargo section than spend that six hour flight with my knees jammed together and the woman in front of me sitting in my lap.  I’m telling you, I want one of those things.

Momus: So everyone else on the flight gets to recline except the person that is unfortunate enough to be in front of the person who decides the rules don’t apply to him? If they decide that no seats should recline, fine, change the rule or functioning of all the seats on the plane, but until then everyone has that option and passengers can not decide to disable that functionality on their own.

Cassandra: Very egalitarian of you. Can we all be issued Bose noise-cancelling headphones and neck rolls too? That would be awesome. How about this: you can pay for an upgrade (because you can buy anything on planes these days) in which the seat in front of you does not recline. As it is, there are airlines who charge for “legroom” upgrades, and then let people recline into your legroom. That seems insane.  If I’ve paid money for legroom, I want Sleepy Sally in front of me to stay in the damn upright and locked position.

Momus: I have no problem with a systematic solution to the problem like you suggest – have a “no recline” section – although the paying for an upgrade thing gets us into a whole socioeconomic bias debate and I don’t want to turn this into an episode of Crossfire. Or they can ban reclining altogether.  Even as one who likes to recline, I’d begrudgingly accept that.

My problem is with one passenger not allowing another to do what the airline permits because of their own needs.  How about if the unfortunate guy who has the seat next to the lavatories starts using “The Pee Defender” to prevent anyone from using the restroom during flight?  Or if I just want to imagine that there are no other passengers on the plane, I bring a set of portable walls to place around me – “The See Defender” if you will?  Unruly children?  “The Wee Defender” is what you need (although that’s just a roll of duct tape)!

Cassandra: Where can I buy these?  I definitely need “The See Defender.”  And there was one long trip back from New Orleans where I got stuck in the wayyy back.  I would have paid a mint for “The Pee Defender” that day.  These are brilliant ideas!  How do we get them on Shark Tank?

Momus: Today I discover that my beloved is a sociopath.  Mark that one down on the calendar.


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25 thoughts on “Throwdown Thursday: Knee Defender Edition

  • Jeff says:

    Great throwdown. Gonna have to side with Momus. I’m all about innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit, but that Knee Defender goes a knee too far. If I paid for my seat to recline, that seat had better be able to go back once we’ve reached our cruising altitude.
    Jeff recently posted…TWO TOO ANGRYMy Profile

  • Eric says:

    I’m with you on this one, especially as one who has flown cross country more times than I care to admit.

    I’d also like to add the “Middle Seat Defender”, which are walls you can put up on either side of you so that a)you get to use at least ONE arm rest and b)you don’t have to share the seat you paid for with the fat rolls of the person next to you and c)they guy hungover from the bachelor party the night before doesn’t fall asleep (drooling) on your shoulder.

    If given the choice between middle seat and plywood in the cargo area, I’m going cargo every damn time.

    Love the blog! Gonna add you to my sidebar and share some blogger love in my next post!
    Eric recently posted…“Like a fucking angel but with curse words and prescription drugs”My Profile

  • michele says:

    My personal favorite air travel trinket is the ostrich head thingy.
    That shit is just damn funny. If I got on a plane and actually saw someone with one of those things on their heads I would laugh uncontrollably the entire time. Pointing and laughing like a mental patient.
    michele recently posted…As Much As I Would Love To…. (a 10 point rant for this holiday weekend)My Profile

    • Cassandra says:

      That is hysterical. I hadn’t seen that one, but just looked it up. As much as I’d like to pretend I am all alone on the plane, there is NO WAY I could wear that.

  • I haven’t yet decided which side I am on in regards to this knee defender thing, but I do know that they sell pillows to go in front so that you can lay forward and sleep. They’re in SkyMall and therefore you could use that and the knee defender to make sure no one rolls you backward into another knee defender and still get your snooze on. Check it out here:
    Also only $25 so a whole travel kit for under $50!
    AmberLynn Pappas recently posted…Weekend Update….not the SNL versionMy Profile

    • Cassandra says:

      I like that! Only I don’t sleep on planes. Some part of me feels like If I fall asleep the plane will certainly crash or maybe land me in some Stephen King “Langoliers” scenario.

  • Phil says:

    I fly all the time on biz and am totally in approval of the knee defender! In fact, I have bought it myself and have used it. The person in front of me just thinks their seat won’t recline. It works great and I get to enjoy my flight in comfort without a stranger’s head in m lap.

    Also, I am the type that never reclines my seat no matter if it’s a two or five hour flight. I just don’t need to.
    Phil recently posted…A grandmother’s passing, memories, an assessment of life.My Profile

    • Momus says:

      Another one of Cassandra’s scofflaw cohort! It’s anarchy out there folks. At least you don’t recline your seat ever, I’ll give you that. Anyone who uses the Knee Defender and then reclines himself has reached Charlie Sheen levels of narcissism.

  • Michelle says:

    I am TOTALLY with you on this one. Seriously…just stay in your own space ffs.
    Michelle recently posted…Family Heirlooms Made By Mythical CreaturesMy Profile

  • qwertygirl says:

    I don’t recline my seat, and there is a row in the plane that has seats that don’t recline in front of it–the exit row. Sadly, I can’t sit in the exit row because I now almost always travel with children, and they have this dumb RULE that if you’re traveling with kids you can’t sit there because they think you might be like, I don’t know, distracted by them if there were an emergency that you had to help with. And of course, they DO charge more for the exit row. Oh thanks, I’m happy to fork over an extra fifty bucks to potentially risk my life saving a bunch of strangers. But the seats in front of it don’t recline.
    qwertygirl recently posted…Changing the ChannelMy Profile

    • Momus says:

      Maybe airlines should go to a democratic process and people can decide whether this is a flight that can recline or not. There would probably be massive corruption and vote buying (Cassandra herself would likely pay off a couple people to vote No Recline), but that doesn’t differ much from a standard election!

      Children – always messing up our prospects for comfort.

  • Liz says:

    I think a little courtesy goes a long way. If the person in front didn’t recline all the way maybe, or at least asked, do you mind? I’m all for the middle seat defender too. And how about knees rings w/ spikes for the subway? I always get the guy spreading his legs. Ick. I love this throwdown idea. I’m always looking for more things to aggravate me. Thanks for enabling.
    Liz recently posted…Zoe vs. Barbara WaltersMy Profile

    • Cassandra says:

      Always our pleasure to inject a little more irritation in life.

      I like the subway idea. How about an entire suit of spikes for when you have to stand up and people are getting to close?

  • don says:

    Hmmmm, I think I side with Momus on this one. Seats that recline should be allowed to do so. Plus, I’m so cheap that I’d not spend the extra money to prevent the dickwad in front of me from reclining. When they do recline, I much prefer to rub their hair and cheeks while repeating, “preeeeeeety laaaady” until they get the hint.
    don recently posted…A shooting a mother and her baby…My Profile

    • Momus says:

      Oh man, your intervention strategy is pure genius – if I could only bring myself to such a moment. Being cheap is also a motivation for me – I stuff as much as I can into my carry on already to avoid the baggage fee.

      • Liz says:

        Oh man, this reminds me of a male colleague who, when he wanted to sit by himself on the subway, would make eye contact w/ the person heading his way, then wink, and motion that they should sit next to him. Worked like a charm.
        Liz recently posted…Zoe vs. Barbara WaltersMy Profile

        • Momus says:

          Ironic creepiness – an inspired move by your colleague. See these are the subtle behavioral manipulations we’re looking for folks! Avoid direct confrontation yet still achieve the desired result.

  • Steph says:

    I’m never getting on a plane again, unless I have all of the above. All of them. Especially the walls.
    Steph recently posted…Relaxation Gone WrongMy Profile

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