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While I’ll leave it up to your discretion if the Knee Defender from Gadget Duck offers a solution to an imminent threat, it has provided me with one while traveling. Allow me to explain.
About a year ago, I was sitting in coach and like most of you reading this article, cramped for space. I’m typically very productive when I fly and wind up knocking out a bunch of writing on my MacBook Pro that always travels with me.
It was during such a circumstance as this, when I nearly had my laptop screen crushed by an overzealous reclining passenger. I always take advantage of the tray table to set my laptop on, but ensure that I leave some space between my screen and the seat back, just in case.
Mid-sentence into writing about an unknown topic, the seat in front of me flew back with such a force, that it trapped the top lid of my laptop in that small cutout where the tray table resides.
I quickly saw what was occurring and pulled my laptop out of the void, but not before I heard a small crunch. After collecting myself and realizing my laptop wasn’t harmed, I politely leaned into the aisle and tried to get the attention of the woman in the aisle seat in front of me.
“Excuse me,” I said calmly. “There’s really not a lot of room back here and I’m wondering if you’d consider moving your seat up?” I really wasn’t expecting a snarky reply, but it’s what I got. “What, I can’t put my seat back?” I saw her eyes roll and knew it wasn’t worth any further effort. I marked that down as yet another traveler without airplane etiquette and went back to work as best I could.
I’m sure there are many that will disagree with me, but I don’t put my seat back on flights, I just don’t think it’s fair to take up even more of someone’s space that they’ve paid for. Especially today, where more and more of it is disappearing. I believe in Airplane Etiquette and try to be as courteous to other passengers as possible. I also don’t think the seat in front of me is a handrail to grab onto when I get up out of my seat. Getting slingshotted isn’t fun.
After the near-death laptop experience, I started searching online for anything that might be able to help prevent future and sudden seat reclining. Little did I know that I wasn’t alone in my want to put a stop to the problem.
Enter Gadget Duck and their product, Knee Defender. Consisting of two independent “clips” that use friction to hold onto the stays (or arms) of your tray table, they limit the ability of the seat in front of you from being able to recline.
While you can press them all the way forward, or right up against the seat in front, you can slide them back a bit and still allow the seat in front of you to recline partially. You essentially create a buffer with this configuration.
Obviously, if your seat doesn’t have a tray table that can fold down from the seat in front of you, Knee Defender is ineffective. You also need to be Johnny-on-the-spot in order to hear the announcement that the plane has reached the required altitude to put your tray table down. This is also the announcement for the ability for the person in front of you to put their seat back, so you have to be ready.
The Knee Defender looks to be made of a hard plastic, with a tough rubber molding around the part that clips onto the tray table stays. This hard rubber is what provides the friction needed for these to hold. The pair of Knee Defenders only weighs 2.2 oz. and can be nested inside of each other to save space for storage.
I’ve now used the Knee Defender on every flight I’ve been on within the last year and I’m happy to report that they work as advertised. I have to admit to smirking once or twice when a person in front of me continued to try everything they could to get their seat back. One of those times consisted of a guy getting pretty violent and throwing his back against the seat a few dozen times. His verbal acknowledgement of a struggle taking place up there, was fairly comical.
You either agree with the invention by now, or are wondering how it’s legal to use the Knee Defender on a plane; maybe both. Well, the Gadget Duck website has the following statement from the FAA, as reported in the October 28, 2003 edition of The Washington Post:
“FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto said the clips were not against federal aviation rules as long as they weren’t used during taxiing, takeoffs or landings.”
It should be noted that if a flight attendant is aware of the Knee Defender and asks you to remove it, you should follow their instructions. Gadget Duck also notes that Knee Defender “isn’t made to hog space” and even offers a Courtesy Card that can be viewed and printed from their website. It seemed a bit passive-aggressive to me and I haven’t opted to use it. I’d personally be more offended by the Courtesy Card, than to think there was something wrong with the reclining function of my seat.
So there you have it, protection from reclining airplane seats with Knee Defender. There’s quite a bit of documentation on the Gadget Duck website, if you’re up for reading more about it, but please feel free to leave any questions below in the comments and I’ll do my best to field them.
The Knee Defender is designed in the USA and manufactured in China.
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I'm a senior flight attendant. If I ever saw this or another passenger complained about it...I would tell the asshole using it to remove it immediately or he would be detained upon arrival.
Space is THE most important factor on any flight. Go ahead and use this device but be aware of the consequences. If you think I will referee a fight over this "spacer"....
The authorities will handle it. Ever hear of the charge "interfering with the duties of a crew member"? Go ahead and make my day...
Despite so many people being upset about this thing, 30% of tall people in a survey said they had no problem using it!
Everybody is missing the point. You should be able to recline your seat AND you should have ample leg room. The problem isn't the a-hole in front or the a-hole in the back...it's the cheap-ass airline that squeezed an extra row of seats into a space that was too small.
Wow. While I have dealt more often than not with rude people who recline too far or too hard in front of me, I wouldn't dream of impeding on their ability to do so. I was once on a transatlantic red eye flight, in the middle seat. Every seat on the plane reclined to go to sleep and relax... except mine couldn't. The one in front of me was reclined back so far that it was about five inches from my face. The entire flight was full. I couldn't move to another sat. I was stuck. It was extremely uncomfortable and I didn't rest at all. I was miserable. Now I am wondering why my seat didn't recline-- was it because of a device like this? If it was, I wonder if the person who used it would have done it knowing how uncomfortable it made me for 14 hours?
I just hope this product provides a few Self - Defense technique example illustrations... For I see a lot a** whoopings for the User if caught! lol!
I typically only recline after about 4-5 hours on a flight with a flight time of 10 hours or more. I have sat on the same plane for over 14 hours before. How long is the battery life in your computor? I attempt to do work on the plane for not many times, due to fat fxxks, babies, stinking pukes, and seats slamming into my computor. I normally don't recline. But I pay for the reclining seats and I will use them, On some contracts I fly bussiness and first class. If the airlines didn't want them to recline or people didn't expect them to recline they would be eleminated. But hey I could make a fortune selling these devices aboard planes and I think that is the point here. They will sell!
I think if anyone is found using them, instant $500 fine. there is no other way to keep people from being a**holes than to hit them in the wallet. then allow customers to sue the company for damages. that will put this company out of business, where it needs to be. and I personally WILL slam my seat into anyone that keeps their legs jammed into the seat. I'm 6'2" and have had to deal with people leaning back-- if you do that, you are an a**hole, period, and if it still did not recline I would get the stewardess to tell you to let it recline. too many selfish people in this world.
The problem of the world - me me me me me, MY needs always comes first.
Think about how far we could come, showing just a little bit understanding for eachothers needs and think twice before we act.
Reclinning seats can be a pain in the a**, but it is a part of flying and it is the same for you, me and everyone else onboard the plane. And as others do point out, I could name 100 of things, that are far worse than this.
And if you are so scared, that your laptop might be broken, why not place it some where safe? Do you really need to have it in your seatpocket? And how is it, that your time, with the laptop on the table, is more important than your fellow passanger in front, who might need some sleep?
Try to let the world spin without you being the center.
Oh and by the way, I have worked on a plane and travled for more than 20 years - I have had my experiences with reclining seat and small seats, but hey - I still lived to tell the tales.
I don't buy the supposed FAA statement. If you are using the clip, you are modifying the function of the seat and can cause damage when the person sitting forward tries to recline. The FAA hates computers in seat pockets because they damage the spring, so I cant imagine they would say this clip is ok.. It's just the seller trying to market his product
after reading this article, when someone stops me and states they are having trouble reclining their seat, and they are not in an exit row, or the last row, I now know to look for this clip. The clip that can actually cause damage to the seat! I understand wanting to use the tray table to use your computer, and I have seen the kind of damage a fast reclining seat can cause. But if you break the tray table (and yes you are breaking the tray table by changing how it works) I will have paper work to do. And your name will probably be on it, possibly a supervisor meeting the flight, or even the police.
I don't understand this movement against reclining. You are punishing the wrong people - your fellow passengers. Why aren't you going (aggressively) after the airlines who continue to decrease space in their airplanes? Were are your posts on that? Are some people inconsiderate? Sure. There are people who talk too much, too loud, don't shower, drink too much, get into fights, hit people with their luggage as they walk down aisles, etc... Thats what happens when you go out into the world.
But perhaps, for a moment you could consider the person on the other side of the chair. Maybe sitting straight up is actually a big problem for them. I know it is for me. I've had 2 (yes, two) spine surgeries. I can't spend even a 45 minute flight straight up. I need to recline or my back goes into spasms. If someone like you put that 'knee defender' behind my seat you would actually be causing me severe pain and distress - all because you want to use your laptop!
May I suggest that we all just take a breath and band together and direct our frustration at the real culprits - the airline execs - who insist on sticking us in even smaller spaces. After all, we are actually in it together.
I think an analogy is in order.
If an obese person sat next to me such that for their comfort they wanted to raise the armrest between us and be partially in my seat, I'd apologize to them for their plight but nevertheless be firm that their discomfort being bound within just the seat they paid for doesn't trump my comfort within the entire seat I paid for (including the reclining I paid for).
I feel badly for tall people, but they have to pay for their situation to be accommodated.
Think about healthcare. Until it became more socialized, of course someone with more health issues would pay more for healthcare than someone healthier. No matter that the unhealthy person didn't deserve their plight.
Now healthcare is moving more towards a socialized model. I'm not commenting on whether that's good or bad, but trying to extend the analogy. If you want the airline to be more socialized, lobby the airlines to adapt their pricing and seating structures such that all people with all body types will be accommodated for the same price. Just realize that it'd take an act of Congress to mandate that private companies give effectively higher-class tickets to taller/heavier customers for the same price as the shorter/thinner person sitting in economy.
Until then, taller (and heavier) people need to either pay more, ask for favors, or otherwise figure out how to be reasonably comfortable without impinging on others' comfort.
Quite often I fly on aircraft that aren't fully occupied. When the seat behind me is empty I like to recline my seat. When it isn't, I don't.
I find it incredible that people think that because the button is there, they are morally in the right to use it whenever and however they choose, the person behind them be damned.
The other week I was using my iPad when someone put their seat back so suddenly that they smacked me in the head with the back of their seat. This isn't the airline's fault. It isn't my fault. It's the person in front's fault for being an ignorant butthole. Same with the person whose laptop got damaged - that sounds a lot like victim blaming to me.
I find it a huge shame that because some people aren't adult enough to choose when to recline and when not to recline we might have the facility removed entirely. Are we that incapable of being considerate?
For me, reclining your seat in economy class on short haul flights when someone is behind is like farting or burping loudly in public. It's perfectly natural to want to do it, it's just horrid for everyone else and you just don't.
On first pass, doesn't this seem cool? Some say yes and others say no. Mostly with an emotional response like, "I paid for the seat to recline", or "I saved my lap top." I want the person who uses this product to think clearly and take responsibility for their actions.
1. This product will be considered a modification to the aircraft. This product is neither TSO'd nor approved by the FAA. What are the ramifications of that? Hmmm... Anything that is attached to the aircraft must be approved. Interesting concept eh?
2. This product prevents the rapid stowing of the tray table and may even prohibit emergency evacuation. Doing so could be construed by flight attendents, pilots, and the faa as a safety issue. For those of you Ninja's out there saying I can get them off the tray tables in less than .05 sec on the PAC timer, need to think about the person next to you who is lifting up on your table to save their own skin while your hand is smashed in the hinge. Good luck.
3. Now comes the security risk... Who do you think will be called the instigator/offender/suspect when you get into one of these arguments with either a flight crewmember or another passenger? Hmmm... let's think about that one. I'll give you the answer; if said product wasn't used there would not have been a problem so legally speaking you would be at fault for probably 1-3 and land yourself in a heap of trouble.
Now to the makers of said product. When your customers get into huge trouble using this I hope that you have a great waiver of liability and a great lawyer. I hope that you have never pierced corporate vale because you have directly contributed to your customers committing a felony, and the full weight of the federal government will come crashing down on you. At min they will tell you cease and desist. However, I would expect a full IRS audit following the investigation. It's just how they roll.
I just want you guys to think before you do things, because you will be held responsible for your actions.
So, let's go over this again-
Don't use product= SAFE
Use product= Not SAFE
@YeahThatsKosher Israelis without laptops are going to buy it by the thousands
@Senior Stew blah blah blah... nothing like a overpaid airborne nazi trying to throw her weight around to add to a topic...
You're right Keith. If I recall correctly, when Boeing designs planes, it plans them for a certain number of rows. Many airlines apparently insist that Boeing give them interiors that have more rows than that.
Some seats don't recline for various reasons established by the airline. You can usually find the specifics for a particular flight at:
Select your seat carefully, and sometimes you can get a bit more space. But be advised that the airlines aren't stupid. Some have added surcharges for those slightly less torturous seats.
Just be glad that they've yet to move to pay toilets. That issue has been raised in the EU.
@templar 6 I don't have a problem with that. My problem is with the people who need to act like they are in their living room for a 60 minute flight or who have to keep their seat down when meals are being served.
90% of the flying publics doesn't want seats to recline AT ALL, especially on short haul flights.
Face it. To 9 out of 10 people (which is pretty much (everyone) YOU are the asshole. Get off your high horse.
@phxpaul- I Googled and found a Washington Post article that does mention an FAA guy saying there's no problem from their end. The NY Times covered the same thing a couple years ago IIRC. A lot of heavy back and forth comments by readers on that article. Ah, the NY Times... Anyway, of course, maybe both papers got it wrong.
@notsure - Incredible that a thinking person could say such things and then question someone else for whether their so-called show of force is "morally appropriate"!
I can't help being tall. Men can't help being men. Women can't help being women. Black people can't help being black. White people can't help being white.
People can, however, help putting their seat back. When someone makes this CHOICE they are impinging on my comfort. I am not impinging on someone else's comfort by virtue of something that I can't change.
That you should think that any of the above-mentioned groups should pay more for doing anything is not logical and worse than morally inappropriate. It's morally vile.
@notsure At 6'4", my knees are always jammed into the back of the seat behind me. When the person in front tries to recline, I keep them firmly in place...I "decline the recline". Perhaps you'll get the seat in front of me your next flight.
I wanted to edit this to clarify that it's people who put their seat back suddenly and without warning, without looking first, and/or too far, that I think are ignorant. Reclining slowly and a little is fine, as is asking first.
@Logical Pilot re 1: It's removable, not a permanent modification to the aircraft, Just like an Ipad on a Ram mount. Removable, no approvals needed.
@Logical Pilot - You wrote something about the company that makes these, "I hope that you have never pierced corporate vale..." You mean that old crooner, Jerry Vale? I hope they never pierce him.
OK, so you say
you're a pilot. And there could be an emergency situation. Uh, when
exactly do the tray tables have to be put up in an emergency? When the
pilot announces an emergency, right? Isn't that long before there would
be some evacuation? So if it's a crash landing at the airport, or in the water, or in some field, the tray tables would already be up, right? IOW, what kind of situation are you suggesting where someone would be pushing up my tray table so that he can get out? OTOH, if the plane flies into the side of a mountain, evacuation would be kinda moooot, right?
And what if, when the pilot announces an emergency, someone has his carry-on open on his table? Or drinks? Or he's diapering his kid? You're saying this gadget somehow is a safety issue, but those other things are not?
these Knee Defender things don't "attach" to a plane any more than your
butt "attaches" to a plane when it's in your seat. Besides, as FearOr
posted, the FAA already said what the deal is from their position. But maybe you know FAR stuff better than the FAA does.
Anyway, thanks for the piercing the corporate "vale" line. Made me laugh.
Have you read the article Mr Logical? It says:
“FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto said the clips were not against federal aviation rules as long as they weren’t used during taxiing, takeoffs or landings.”
Your entire argument is based around the idea that it breaches FAA rules. It doesn't, so your argument is flawed.
@dsappl if you read the article, the author used it so he can save his laptop
@everlastingphelps @templar 6 I hate everything about flying, I hate the seats, the food, the security and the airports. Most of all I hate the experience from beginning to end. And sometimes I loath the people and the inpolite attuitude of many. This is just another part of the overall included fun... It seems it would be funner to ram a hot poker in my eye than ever boarding a plane again. In fact I think I hate it more than the SHOTSHOW... And next month it begins again in earnest, the monthly Circus
@everlastingphelps Can you please direct me to this survey. Since every flight I'm on nearly everyone around me reclines the second they are able I sincerely doubt this is correct. But I'm open to seeing metrics. My guess is that if it is true, people are reacting to a reduction in space, not simply wanting not to recline. This is a complex problem in that we all likely agree on the problem as a whole. Everyone is experience discomfort. But we are not directing our outrage at the right people. Airlines are not treating us humanely. And because of that we are lashing out on our fellow passengers.
@everlastingphelps Firstly,it's not necessarily true that 90% of the PUBLIC wants non-reclining seats. I haven't seen the survey you're referring to in a bit, but if I remember correctly it was from a website heavily visited by business-folk who tend to work on flights.
But even if 90% of the public do want to get rid of reclining seats - at the current, present, now, moment, it is a feature offered by the airlines. Take your "high horse" crap to the airline. In the meantime, it's perfectly fine to use a feature availed to us that we pay for the right to use.
@Fean0r I've got another analogy about whether the morality of impinging on someone else's space is dependent on whether the needs are by choice or by nature.
Say someone has back issues such that when seated for more than 10 minutes at a time, he must recline slightly more than an economy seat will allow him to.
But there exists a device that somehow manages to get the seat to recline slightly more than it's intended to be able to recline.
This passenger uses this device to make the economy seat he paid for more comfortable to him. He justifies it saying that he paid for his seat and his medical issue necessitating a slightly bigger recline is not his fault.
I think you'd agree he's being inconsiderate because he's limiting the space of the person behind him because the extra reclining is not an intended feature for the seat he paid for - he's taking more than he's due. His being born that way doesn't factor in.
@Fean0r It looks like you didn't read my health care analogy. In the past, people pay for what they use, even if they were born with a preexisting condition. That has been changing for healthcare so that all people pay the same amount, regardless of how much they use in the medical system (still very far but being that way, but moving in that direction).
The airline industry has NOT taken the socialized approach. You pay for what you use, even if you can't help needing to use more. If you are tall, you need more legroom and need to pay for that extra legroom.
If you sat next to a large person, and in order for them to be comfortable they required the armrest between you to be lifted so they can overflow into your seat, would you agree that it's only morally fair for them to impinge on your enjoyment of your entire seat because they don't fit within the class of seats they paid for?
In other words, logically speaking, the fact that someone chooses or doesn't chose to require more room is inconsequential to the moral argument. The question is do they have more rights than the person who wants to use the entire seat they paid for (and its functionality).
@prettysure I would slam my seat back into your knees until they were bloody. I'm 6'2" myself and have had to deal with it. thanks for letting the world know you are an a**hole.....
@prettysure hear that your show of force might stop me from reclining, but why is that morally appropriate? I made some logical points in my post. What exactly do you disagree with?
@YeahThatsKosher I know. And Israelis, very selfish by nature, will use it just to keep others from leaning back
@everlastingphelps I feel you. I'm 6'4. What they ought to do is add more leg room and then figure out what worst case recline level should be. Perhaps legroom could be scattered. Then people could be assigned seats based upon their height (I know this is a problem for couples and families) but my 5' wife has no problem letting me sit in comfort for awhile.
@larryalevine @everlastingphelps There's lots of compromises that can be made. I think the most reasonable would be to just limit how far they go back on short haul planes (like SWA). That's where the real problems are. There's a huge gulf between 4-6 degrees and the current 12-15 they go now. I've had lots of people either lean back partially with no trouble, or ones who lean back, hit my knees, move it up a few inches, and we are fine.
It's not a territory thing. It's a "don't break my stuff and don't put your chair in my knees" thing.
@everlastingphelps @larryalevine Thank you. That's a very interesting article. What I would suggest is that there is a compromise. Half the plane allows recline, half does not. Obviously there are people who need this ability (like myself) for medical reasons. We are not trying to be selfish or inconsiderate of others. Just not sit in maddening pain for the entire flight.
@notsure @everlastingphelps Knees in your back is also a feature. As is me breathing on you over the seat and sneezing on you. It's perfectly fine for me to use a feature that you've availed me of by reclining your seat (since I'm not able to do any of those things UNTIL you have reclined your seat.)
@notsureeither This is an intelligent discussion. People make logical arguments advocating their position, and others respond agreeing or disagreeing with some or all of those points.
Your comment isn't contributing. In fact it seems pretty ad hominem. If you think I'm not being fair or nice, please point out why.
@everlastingphelps He might not have said it in the nicest way, but he has a valid point that everyone has the right to be comfort within the bounds of what they pay for.
We all pay for reclining seats. So the space in front of your knees is not guaranteed space you paid for. It's only yours if the person in front of you isn't using it for reclining.
If you can't be comfortable in an economy size seat with the seat in front of you reclining like it's allowed to do, pay for another class. I know tall people are born that way, but life isn't fair. If you're tall, you have to pay extra for the legroom you need. Business class and first class aren't cheaper for tall people. Tall people can't save money by impinging on the reclining space of the seat in front of them.
The person in front of them only wants to use the space they rightfully paid for in order to be comfortable, whereas the tall person who paid economy is asking for more room than they paid for.
Right. You are announcing your plan to physically batter him because of your perceived entitlement to "comfort" and HE is the asshole.
@notsure - When you say, "... you don't have the right to force me". Sure, I don't have the right to force you to do anything.
But, my post wasn't about who has a "right" to this or that or anything.
I posted about the real world that exists on an airplane. About two things... not being able... to occupy the same space... at the same time.
I posted about the physical world. My analogy was about the physical world. But you think I applied it not "appropriately" because it was not applied to some dream world of yours in which seats can recline regardless of what physical matter may be occupying the space behind them - namely, someone else's legs, arranged normally, while his/her butt is arranged normally in his/her seat.
If pigs flew out my butt, I wouldn't have to buy bacon. If no person who might ever sit behind you had long legs, you could always recline. But in the real world, I'm buying bacon and you're not reclining if a long-legged person is seated behind you. Whether or not they use some plastic gadget to stop you. Their knees will.
Now go ahead and talk about your rights to this and that until your sphincter turns blue. But unless and until you devise some sort of airplane space that defies the standard laws of physics, good luck.
@wisehectare I agree with your analogy. Now let's apply it appropriately.
If buying a seat on a plane entitles me to space in the overhead (it doesn't anymore now that they started charging for checked bags; it used to though), then you putting your one bag in the overhead bin rightfully precludes me from putting my carry on bag in that exact spot. I have to put my bag in a different spot in the overhead bin.
But if you bring a double-sized carry-on (even if you can't help it, say, because it's for medically necessary supplies), you don't have the right to force me to have to put my single-sized carry-on at my feet. You have to keep at least half of that bag by your feet so as not to impinge on my paid right to store my bag in the overhead.
In other words, your right to extend your fist ends at my face.
@notsure - If someone's legs are there, then they're there. And unless a tall person has short upper legs, then there is no option of stretching them out and underneath your seat so you can recline. Why? Because of geometry. So even w/o that gadget, you won't be able to recline.
If I am sitting behind you in coach, in many planes my knees will already be up against the back of your seat. While we are at the gate. Not because I'm doing anything special or sitting weirdly. It's simply because I'm alive and sitting normally in my seat.
If you want to say that my long legs are "blocking" you from reclining, then that's like saying my carry-on in the overhead bin is "blocking" you from you putting your carry-on in the same place in the bin. I'm allowed to have a carry-on, and if I put mine up there first, then the space you want for your bag is already occupied by my bag.
I'm also allowed to have legs. My knees are there behind your seat before you're allowed to recline - and when you are allowed to recline, that space is already taken by my knees. That's about it.