‘Knee Defender’ or is it knee offender?

Did the 'Knee Defender' cause an in-flight fight? Recline at your own risk!

Knee Defender
Knee Defender

(CNN) — A simple device to keep the airline seat in front of you from reclining and banging into your knees got a couple of passengers kicked off a flight for fighting.

CNN’s Jeanne Moos shows us the gadget that started it all.

A new air war has broken out… in the air space over your knees.

You put what amounts to two hunks of plastic on the legs of your tray table to stop the seat in front of you from going back.

But no one was grinning on a United flight from Newark to Denver that had to be diverted to Chicago after a fight broke out. A 48-year-old male passenger deployed the Knee Defender to stop the seat of the female passenger in front of him.

When she couldn’t recline, she flagged down a flight attendant who told the guy to remove the gadget. he refused. The female passenger responded by throwing water in his face. They were both kicked off the plane.

Oh sure, when it happens to others, it’s funny. But as this reviewer of the Knee Defender joked, “The captain has turned off the seat belt sign. Please feel free to move around the cabin and punch in the head the guy with Knee Defender in seat 14B.”

The device was invented by 6-foot-3 Ira Goldman.

“I was tired of being bopped in the knees by reclining seats,” Goldman said.

The video shows an early version. Today it looks like this and sells for $21.95.

In the words of Conde Nast Traveler, “as devious as it is ingenious.”

And everyone we talked to agreed.

The Knee Defender comes with a courtesy card for you to hand to the passenger in front of you.

“I have provided you with this card because I have long legs and if you recline your seat you will bang into my knees.”

The FAA doesn’t prohibit the Knee Defender, though airlines can, and United does.

However, the story about the fight on the plane seemed to be great for the Knee Defender’s business.

The website crashed due to “unexpectedly heavy demand.” But whether you consider it a Knee Defender or a knee to the flying public’s groin, can’t we all just remember what Louis CK says about the wonder of flying? “You’re sitting in a chair in the sky.”

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