Stop someone’s seat reclining

A new gadget can stop a fellow aeroplane passenger’s seat from reclining.

Stop someone’s seat reclining

No, you didn’t misread that – a new gadget which clips onto the back of the aeroplane seat in front of you can stop it reclining. But are these devices illegal?

Called the Knee Defender, the gadget is being promoted as a way to protect your poor, battered kneecaps on flights. The plastic device, which costs US$22 plus postage, clips onto your tray table and locks the hinges of the tray in place. This prevents the person in the seat in front of you from leaning back, as the hinges on your tray can’t close properly. You do need to keep your tray table down in order to use this device, but as long as you’re planning to use a laptop or read a book, this shouldn’t be an issue.

The Knee Defender comes with a courtesy card, which you can fill out and hand to the person in the seat in front of you, explaining the situation. This does suggest that the makers of this device are aware that it could turn ‘flights into fights’, and the animosity could make a long journey more uncomfortable than the reduction in your legroom.

The other query against this device is whether it’s legal. When it first came out, the Federal Aviation Administration of America said that the clips were not against US regulations, as long as they weren’t used during taxiing, take-off or landing, as the tray table must be secured closed during these times. So, it seems you could use them in US airspace, but as yet, there has been no word on the issue from Australian authorities.

If this device appeals to you, you can purchase your very own Knee Defender here.

What do you think? Would it be worth the potential fight to protect your legroom and stop a selfish passenger spending the whole flight with their seat back? Or is it selfish to use a device to make reclining impossible?


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    23rd Jun 2014
    Where do we obtain this device, i would like two of them.
    23rd Jun 2014
    How pathetic. Don't you dare lay your seat back but don't mind me while I recline any way I choose. If someone couldn't politely ask me not to recline my seat for a while and preferred to use one of these devices instead, I'm incline to think they may find it in lots of little unusable pieces.
    fish head
    23rd Jun 2014
    We were all born with an unrecliner. It is called a tongue. Ask politely and you may be given the boon you request. Just don't expect it for the whole long haul flight.
    25th Aug 2014
    exactly fish head, always use good manners and ask if ok.
    agree with the long hall also.
    Thai Traveller
    23rd Jun 2014
    having the seat tilt back is not a big problem, I get annoyed when the people behind me poke their knees into my kidneys , or let their kid stretch his legs into the seat. There's only fabric between.

    Of course, the airlines could always space the seats further apart. On my last two AirAsia flights, ALL the red seats in front were empty. These are the more expensive ones for those who want leg room and can afford the jumped up cost.
    23rd Jun 2014
    I guess we will next get a tongue tied device to click on a complainers tongue.
    23rd Jun 2014
    On a recent trip to Bali I ended up with bruised knees as they were touching the back of the seat BEFORE she reclined. After she reclined I was actually wedged to my seat. Asking politely did nothing as she said it was her right to recline. During the trip she constantly banged the chair back as she believed I had my knees in her back on purpose! Thank god it was only a 3.5 hour flight. Somehow I will have to find how to make my leg length shorter....!
    Thai Traveller
    23rd Jun 2014
    On a flight from BNE to Perth, my sister is asthmatic and complained about the seat being tilted, and for her troubles she had a glass of wine poured in her hair.

    Lovely people aren't there?
    23rd Jun 2014
    maybe you could have surgery to shorten your legs Seabird!!!! lol

    23rd Jun 2014
    In an old movie the man in the seat behind use a thin blade, worked a treat
    23rd Jun 2014
    a very selfish device.
    stop the person in front leaning his chair back but you can still do lean back on the person behind you.

    should be immediately banned.
    12th Feb 2018
    Only really selfish people recline their seats in economy anyway. Except for the night part of long haul it should be unacceptable to do so now the seating is so constricted.

    There were only 4 selfish pricks on my last day flight from Sydney to Perth and unfortunately one of them was in front of me. I even had to ask them to put the seat up for landing.
    23rd Jun 2014
    Flights less than 3 - 4 hours should not have reclining seats. As a (former) FIFO worker, I put up with the ignorance of some passengers for years. Slamming seats into the recline the moment it was allowed was the norm. I have watched people wear their meals only to be abused by the person causing it. On some flights, cabin crew have gone around telling passengers to put their seat up during meal service, only to be ignored once they had moved on. The same applies to the many people who hide, not turn off electronic devices during take off and landing and, those who actually text during flights...long overdue for airlines to take back the cabins on their flights to ensure equity for all passengers
    Young Simmo
    23rd Jun 2014
    Boy I can see the scene already.
    Somebody who thinks he is flying to London can't put his seat back.
    Then there is a punch-up.
    Then he is dropped off in Egypt.
    Then he has to book another flight to London at top price, and he is 3 days late for that meeting which is all over.
    Then the really funny part, on his way back to Australia he has the misfortune to have the same passenger behind him all the way from London to Sydney.
    Almost a plot for a movie.
    23rd Jun 2014
    can never understand why airlines do not restrict the amount a seat can recline or is that too simple.
    12th Feb 2018
    If they make the space in economy much smaller we'll all be standing up.
    23rd Jun 2014
    YOu know thats hardly our fault, how in hell are you supposed to relax in flight, especially on a long journey. I'm sure the seats have been put closer together to fit more ppl in and i'll bet the prices are up too!!! thats really absurd.
    and yes i know how hard it is, especially if your tall, cause i am, but when not eating or moving about. you need to relax some how you can't do it sitting up right. How redicoulous
    12th Feb 2018
    Of course you can relax sitting up. Take a look at the next buddha statue you see. You don't need to lay back to relax and in economy there is not enough room.

    I actually hate trying to watch a movie when the person in front is fully reclined and the screen is nearly hitting my nose.
    25th May 2019
    I dont put the seat back even on a long haul as I find the difference to my comfort level with the seat up or down is minimal. The only way to endure long haul flights in cattle class is to take sleeping pills with you.
    23rd Jun 2014
    wstaton, it is all about squeezing in about as many people as possible to make as much money as possible.
    ryanair in europe even tried to bring in standing room only.
    i don't know if ryanair was in the end able to go ahead to charge for the use of the toilets!
    the problem is now because we live in a world of mass tourism, not like it was when i first flew in the early 60's.
    23rd Jun 2014
    True doggone but what has that to do with restricting inclination.

    I also find it very hard to think a airline could get away with standing. what happens in a emergency situation they would stand no chance in event of a crash.
    23rd Jun 2014
    I hate air travel for all of the reasons mentioned, plus there is drama if you need to get up and stretch your legs or go to the toilet when a row of seats are reclined.

    If I do use air travel I plan and book ahead for a business class seat on an aisle. On a flight to the UK several years ago I booked in stages with overnight stops. The cost of accommodation added $500 to the trip but I travelled in comfort and arrived with a minimum of jet lag.

    I Australia I travel by train and can move around, get a meal or a snack that is fresh and hot or cold as appropriate (unlike airlines that serve cold meals and warm beer). I can get a sleeper cabin with a shower if I travel a long distance (Sydney to Perth). You can have a social interaction with other passengers, chat, play cards etc or just read in your cabin.

    Car and caravan was a preferred travel method, however the cost of fuel has killed that among other reasons. I rarely stopped in caravan parks as the last van was fully set up to stop any where. Sadly at 73 I do not have the eyesight or health to do any more long distance driving.

    Last but not least is Bus Travel, again like aircraft it has its restrictions but not as bad a being 35,000 feet in the air with some idiot in front and a child kicking the back of your seat.
    12th Feb 2018
    I love trains too. Such a civilised way to travel especially if you go first class with that lovely leg room and comfortable seats.

    The devonshire tea is pretty good on the XPT. The train food sure beats the crap they serve in economy on flights these days.

    For anyone with time trains are great.

    I've often wondered why the social interaction on trains is so good.
    Even beats cruises I think.

    Planes worry me a bit now as the crowding and squashing of the passengers is a recipe for travel rage in my opinion.
    15th Oct 2018
    Right-on, Bobeye. I don't travel by air within Australia unless I have to. Give me a relaxing train ride any day.
    23rd Jun 2014
    wstaton, if seats were set bolt upright with no inclination then an airline could put extra rows in.

    as for standing room only - ryanair tried to do it but the british airline regulatory body immediately squashed the idea on safety grounds.
    but airlines will try and push the envelope as much as possible to make money like the drip feeding of charges when you book online.
    24th Jun 2014
    what i would like to now is why am i getting the same notifications that someone has posted, three times, hell ONce is enough?? DO youz have a virus or something???
    Young Simmo
    24th Jun 2014
    buby, there is a simple explanation. Some people get impatient and think they haven't posted thier comment, so they click "Post Reply" again, again, again, again, again and again. Every click is something to drive you up the wall.
    24th Jun 2014
    This is a fault of the commenting software. Most software will not allow further input until the previous one has been serviced.
    24th Jun 2014
    I should also point out that those commenting have the option of removing the extra ones when they see that more than one has been posted. They should see 'remove' under the comment.
    3rd Jun 2017
    Sounds perfect
    27th Jan 2018
    I think everyone needs to relax a bit. We are affluent enough to safely travel across the world with food and beverages served to us for minimal cost. Less than $900. for my last flight to Los Angeles. A little inconveniece is not that hard to deal with. No i don't recline, ever. I travel long hau at least once a year land just deal with others need to recline. In reality the 10 or 15 degrees of recline increases comfort by so little i just don't get why people need to, but the world is made up with all kinds of difference. Relax, you are about to arrive in a new space, so enjoy, smile, be happy you can afford these wonderful experiences
    12th Feb 2018
    I'm with you. I choose not to recline now too as it is quite selfish with the current seat crowding. Through the night on a long haul when everyone is sleeping is okay as all the seats are reclined and there is little movement and no meals etc going on.
    6th Feb 2018
    Dumb, divisive, despicable.
    6th Feb 2018
    Dumb, divisive, despicable.
    12th Feb 2018
    This trouble-making device should be banned. The seats are made to recline so that you can actually lean back and sleep on the long haul flights. I always need to recline the seat as I get back pain from trying to sit straight up even with a pillow supporting the lumbar area. If you are a tall person or need more leg room then pay for a better seat as I have done with my next long haul flight instead of expecting other people to accommodate all your needs. There are not many airline seats that are the right shape for short people either so get over it.
    12th Feb 2018
    I can only see trouble using this device.

    The only time I am glad I am short is when flying.
    World Prophet
    6th Mar 2018
    Flew coach last trip, and never again. A thoroughly uncomfortable trip, and I was looking at one poor bastard, across the isle a bit further up, and he was a pretty large guy, who could hardly get his tray down. I like the extra bit of room up the front, plus I get to my destination a bit faster. It might only be a second, but apparently every second counts.
    25th Jan 2020
    I too have trouble getting my tray down as I've expanded frontways instead of sideways. I blame the airlines for their greed, squashing the seats closer together to make a bit more profit. Don't know if the seating is any better on the overseas flights but economy flights in Australia are an unenjoyable nightmare these days.
    14th Mar 2018
    Seats are designed and meant to be reclined to promote comfort in flight. Who wants to sit bolt upright for a 14 hour long haul flight. Get real!!!
    24th Mar 2018
    As someone who is 194cm tall I do have an issue with the seat recliners and on most flights want to either work or be entertained using the screen/tablet or my laptop. This makes viewing impossible when the seat in front is reclined, so I'm ordering a pair as soon as they're back in stock and don't think I'll have too much objection when I'm using them.
    14th Apr 2018
    I can't remember the name of the airline (I think it was Cathay Pacific) I flew to Austria with a few years ago, but their seats were inside a pod like capsule and when you reclined, the seat went back but the capsule didn't, so it didn't impact on the person behind you.
    16th Apr 2018
    On a flight to Bali one year I reclined my seat the person behind me complained so I put my seat up 3hrs later very unconfutable stood up no one behind me he was spread out on the middle seats nothing said to me now I don't care if your 7ft that seat of mine is going back
    21st Apr 2018
    I Don't believe YLC should be Advertising this "Knee Defender". After all, the person in the seat in front of you has paid for a seat that reclines. There are other ways to resolve a reclining seat problem. I wonder, do the complainants ever recline their own seats ?????
    12th May 2018
    This is why I won't fly economy!
    12th May 2018
    Suzij some people just can't fly business or 1stt class. Common courtesy should prevail.

    2nd Jun 2018
    On long haul flights overseas I can see big trouble. I would be as angry as hell if I was unable to recline my seat on a flight to London etc.
    30th Aug 2018
    I have a trick that works everytime someone tips their seat back (even on a 1-hour flight). Just adjust your own air vent onto full, and then angle it onto the head of the person in front.
    The Bronze Anzac
    9th Feb 2019
    This post was made around 5 years ago. Has there been any changes to the rules, regulations or legal with regards to the use of this Knee Defender ?
    The Bronze Anzac
    9th Feb 2019
    This post was made around 5 years ago. Has there been any changes to the rules, regulations or legal with regards to the use of this Knee Defender ?
    16th Apr 2019
    The decision for use of this product on Australian airlines was made when this gadget came out in 2014. This is not a new gadget, why say it is?
    Please read:
    13th May 2019
    As far as I'm aware, knee defenders (and I have a set) cannot be used on aircraft seats and the cabin crew is likely to ask you to remove them.
    Really, the only solutions to the seat in front being reclined into one's area is to either ask for a seat in the first row of the cabin or to upgrade.
    Premier Economy have wider seats and more legroom but you will still have someone sitting next to you and the seat in front, if there is one, will still recline. Business Class will give you all the comfort you would want, plus the extras.
    It all depends on how you see your flight, and of course, how deep your pockets are.
    As anyone who has flown long distances will tell you, once you have flown in Business Class you will never want to go back.

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