Last week we asked our travelers two questions about their thoughts on the Knee Defender and here are the results!

  • Should the Knee Defender remain banned?
    • Yes: 54.8% (1085 responses)
    • No: 45.2% (894 responses)
  • Would you use the Knee Defender?
    • Yes: 30.5% (682 responses)
    • No: 69.5% (1554 responses)

We thank all of our travelers for participating in our topic of debate. Join the conversation in the comments below and share your thoughts on the results and the Knee Defender.


The Knee Defender

To recline or not recline, that is the question. Anyone who has traveled on an international or domestic flight in the economy/coach class will have one or two uncomfortable stories to tell about their seating arrangements. With airlines keen to maximize their profits, space in the coach class is at an absolute minimum. If people recline their seats too much, they are more than likely to inconvenience another passenger.

One company seems to have come up with a solution to the matter. They are calling this product the “Knee Defender.” It is a small gadget that can be bought for under $30. The Knee Defender is clipped to the seat tray area in front of a passenger, which stops the seat in front from reclining.

The Knee Defender has been around for a few years, but it recently gained popularity after two passengers got into an intense argument on an airline. One of the passengers was using the Knee Defender to stop the other passenger’s seat from reclining. Passenger B got incredibly upset when he realized that Passenger A was purposefully preventing him from reclining his seat.

Knee Defender
image credits:

Ever since people found out about this intense argument on an airplane, a lot of people have been going online to buy the Knee Defender. The company that is responsible for creating this product claims that their site traffic has increased by over 500x, while sales of the Knee Defender is at an all time high.


Banned on United States Airplanes

There appears to be a mad rush from regular travels to buy the Knee Defender online; however, they may not be able to use this device as freely as they think. Devices such as the Knee Defender are banned on airlines operating in the United States. If you are traveling by Delta, U.S. Airways, Virgin America, American Airlines or Southwest Airlines, using the Knee Defender on the seat in front of you is not an option.

When the Knee Defender is examined, it appears to be a very nifty device. It is not that expensive and performs its advertised task without any problems. However, many airlines and frequent travelers are worried that the Knee Defender is going to create a lot more problems than it solves. Instead of keeping all passengers happy in their confined spaces, it will create rifts, arguments and intense discussions aboard planes throughout the world.


Reasons to Use The Knee Defender

We all know that riding the coach/economy class can be a challenge, especially if you are a tall person. People who tend to recline their chair dramatically and suddenly can cause irritation and discomfort to passengers who are sitting behind them. When an airline ticket is purchased, you are paying for the seat and the space in front of you. If someone who reclines their seat infringes that space, people tend to get upset.

If every seat had a device such as the Knee Defender installed on it, the problem of reclining seats would be eliminated. Tense discussions between passengers would come to an end and everyone would sit up right in their assigned positions.

Some people consider the Knee Defender more trouble than it is worth. However, many travelers can attest to situations where they had food or drinks spilled on them when someone reclined their seat too fast. Other passengers had to deal with damage to their laptops or tablet devices because they fell to the ground when the seat in front was pushed back. Are these customers not entitled to the same respect and personal space as the individuals who are reclining their seats?

It is easy for airlines or experts to say that passengers should resolve the issue of “reclining or not reclining” among themselves; however, most passengers are complete strangers. Some may not even speak the same language. How can we expect two strangers to have a civil and productive conversation about reclining seats? Is it not better to install the Knee Defender in front of the seat so that another passenger does not inconvenience you?


Reasons NOT To Use The Knee Defender

The Knee Defender is going to cause a lot of arguments among passengers. Most passengers believe they have a right to recline their seats. If airlines do not want people infringing on the space behind them, they should put out seats that do not recline.

If a passenger attempts to recline their seat and it fails to do so, they will call an airhostess and attempt to resolve the issue. If the airhostess discovers that a gadget is attached to the back of that seat, the two passengers are going to end up in a heated debate. One passenger will shout about his or her right to recline, while the other will argue that they want the space in front of them to be untouched.

Some travelers recline because they want to feel comfortable, however, for most travelers keeping the seat completely upright for the entire flight is not an option. They may have neck or back issues that need some recline on the seat. Asking these passengers to sit in an incredibly uncomfortable, upright position for a long flight is not an option.


Is It All a Big Joke?

Some airline travelers are thoroughly unimpressed by the Knee Defender and the service it offers. They believe that this gadget should be kept as a souvenir instead of put to actual use. There are plenty of other ridiculous gadgets out there, such as the Butt Towel or the blanket with holes for your head and arms. Even those silly gadgets might serve a more useful purpose on airlines. At least, that is what a few writers believe.

There is an amusing section on the gadget website that sells the Knee Defender. Along with the option to buy their product, customers can print out a pre-written comment card to place on the seat in front of them.

Here is the message written on the comment card, slightly paraphrased:

“Please try not to recline your seat during this flight. I have decided to place this card on your chair because reclining your seat will be very uncomfortable for me. I have extremely long legs that get crushed every time someone reclines their seat.
I know how nice it feels to recline your seat. It can be a very pleasant experience to lie down a little further and be comfortable in your seat. However, in this case the comfort you get from reclining your seat will be having a directly negative impact on my flight experience. Since I do not want to end up with a knee injury, I am politely asking that you not recline your seat.
I hope this is not too much of an inconvenience. If you do not appreciate this message, or have a problem with not reclining your seat, please feel free to ask the airline for a solution that works for both of us. Thank you.”

Is the above message a joke? Do passengers really need to go around passing out comment cards to other seats when they are traveling? Will a silly comment card prevent someone from reclining their seat if they want to?

The intentions behind this comment card may be noble, but the execution is very poor. No one likes snark or passive aggressive behavior, which is exactly what this card is promoting.


Other Solutions to the Reclining Seat Problem

Instead of having to resort to a device such as the Knee Defender, it may be better for customers to use discretion and be courteous. Those who wish to recline their seats could turn around and politely ask the other passenger if it is a problem. That way, passengers can get their food, drinks or electronics off the seat while it is reclined. This will prevent spills, property damage and keep everyone in a better mood.

If especially tall passengers are feeling pressure on their knees because of a reclined seat, they should ask the airline for a small pillow to put in front of their knees. This may not increase the space they have, but it will provide adequate protection and comfort for their knees.

It may be tempting to a buy a gadget such as the Knee Defender, but communicating with passengers is always the best way to resolve a conflict. If everyone is polite and courteous, problems involving reclining seats can be solved in a mutually beneficial manner.


What Are Your Thoughts?

Have you ever experienced reclining seat dilemma or have advice to share with fellow travelers? How about your thoughts on the Knee Defender – good, bad, or just a big joke?