The in-air spat that took place on a Denver-bound flight this weekend presents a classic conundrum.
The question: Who's the bigger asshole -- the guy who used a device called the Knee Defender to prevent the person sitting in front of him from reclining into his work space or the woman who responded to the situation so angrily that the flight had to be diverted.
What is the Knee Defender? According to the Gadget Duck website, which sells the items for $21.95 per pair, it's a "unique...truly practical travel accessory" that "helps you defend the space you need when confronted by a faceless, determined seat recliner who doesn't care how long your legs are or about anything else that might be 'back there.'"
Here's a look at the items, as seen in a 2013 Core77 post:
The clips attach to a tray table when it's folded down, as seen in another Core77 image: Placing the clamps in these spots prevents the seat from reclining -- but it could also potentially miff the person forced to remain bolt upright for the remainder of the flight. Hence, the Knee Defender folks have created a "courtesy card" to give passengers wondering what's up. Here it is: The Associated Press story about a United flight from Newark to Denver on Sunday makes no mention of such a card -- or courtesy of any type, really.
According to the AP, an unnamed man used the Knee Defender, upsetting the woman in front of him. She complained to a flight attendant, who asked the guy to take off the clips; they're prohibited by United and most airlines other than Spirit and Allegiant, which don't use seats that recline, period. When he refused, the woman reportedly expressed her displeasure by throwing a cup of water on him, prompting the crew to head to Chicago instead of Denver.
Bonus irony: The pair were seated in United's Economy Plus section, which more leg room than coach -- four inches worth!
When the plane took off again, neither the man nor the woman were on it. And while their names haven't been made public and FAA fines seem unlikely, word of their dust-up is traveling far and wide, even becoming a topic on the Today show, as seen in the video below.
Clearly, this story has legs. Check out the Today conversation here.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.