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.