Plane diverted after row over reclining seat device
A row over an anti-reclining seat device, used by a passenger to lock the seat in front of him, caused a flight to be diverted and the police called.
The passenger had allegedly fastened a “knee defender” to his tray table on a United Airlines Flight 1462 on Sunday so that he had space to work on his laptop.
He refused to unlock the apparently banned device when asked, leading a female passenger to throw water at him.
The ensuing row prompted the pilot of the four-hour flight between Newark and Denver to make an emergency landing in Chicago.
Here, the two passengers, both aged 48, were arrested, AP reported.
It is up to individual airlines whether or not to ban such devices, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, but the Knee Defender is currently banned on all major US airlines.
The Knee Defender safeguards legroom by preventing the seat in front of you from reclining any further. Consisting of two plastic clips which are placed at the top of either arm of the tray table, the miniature device keeps the seat in front of you locked in place.
It was created by Ira Goldman, a 6ft 4in Washington DC resident, who wanted to help other tall travellers fed up with being “bashed in the knees over and over again” while on a flight.
It should be noted that the clips are meant to be used with your tray table down; airlines typically request that the table must be raised and locked away during taxiing, takeoffs or landings.
The $21.95 (€16.65) gadget, available on www.gadgetduck.com, comes with a “Courtesy Card” that can be given to the passenger in front of you to tell them you're using the clips. The note card provides an extensive explanation including why you are using the Knee Defender, how much (in inches) you are willing to allow the seat to be reclined and to notify you if they need to recline their seat at any point during the flight.
The card ends with a call to report any complaints of inconvenience directly to the airline in a bid to convince them to “provide enough space between rows so that people can recline their seats without banging into other passengers”.
It is not clear whether the courtesy card was used in this case.