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?