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This $22 Gadget Could Get You Kicked Off a Flight

The Knee Defender promises more legroom. Every major airline (and plenty of passengers) hate it.

On Sunday, a tiny gadget caused a fight to break out on United Flight 1462, forcing the plane to make an unscheduled stop at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. No, it was not an iPod playing Justin Bieber on repeat. It was the Knee Defender, a pair of plastic wedges that lock a seat in position so that it can’t be reclined. The Knee Defender has been around since 2003, sold by a company called Gadget Duck for $21.95. It works like this: Pull the tray table down, place the doo-dads on the legs of the tray table and watch as the person in front of you screams obscenities because his or her seat won’t recline. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t ban the device, but every major airline has forbidden its use. So far, public opinion online seems split over whether it’s more obnoxious to recline a seat on a flight or use the Knee Defender, which comes with a courtesy card to pass to the enraged passenger in front of you. As for United Flight 1462, both of the bickering passengers were removed from the plane, but, according to O'Hare spokesperson Gregg Cunningham, nobody was arrested.



— Keith Wagstaff