‘Knee Defender’ Creator Justifies Device After it Sparks Fight on Plane

If there is no such thing as bad publicity, the Knee Defender has had a public relations bonanza in the past few days. The device, which retails for an estimated $22, was invented to “help protect knees and legs on airplanes,” according to its website. Essentially, the Knee Defender stops the person in front of you on an airline flight from ramming their seat into your knees and face when they recline.

Although, there’s one thing that the Knee Defender starts – fights.

On August 26, a passenger using the Knee Defender in the Economy Plus section of an airplane (which has several inches of extra legroom) busted out his knee defender to use his laptop. His decision started a fight which eventually forced the plane to land in Chicago, according to the Chicago CBS affiliate station.

United Flight 1462 was on its way from Newark, N.J. to Denver, Colo. when the Knee Defender user decided to stop the passenger in front of him from reclining by using his handy traveling tool. The Knee Defender is not popular with all airline passengers, however. The object of his defense–the woman seated in front of the man–eventually got so angry that he wouldn’t stop using the Knee Defender that she sloshed a cup of water in his face.

The fight between the Knee Defender user, who also refused to cooperate with flight attendants and stop using the device, and the angry woman got so bad that the flight crew landed the plane in Chicago.

It seems to be the worst Knee Defender midair melee so far. Though it is not banned by the Federal Aviation Administration, as reported previously by Inquisitr, every airline has discretion over whether it is allowed for use by passengers. United and all other airlines have said it is not allowed.

On Tuesday, the Knee Defender website said it was experiencing unexpectedly extremely heavy traffic. The gadget’s founder may have an idea why. Six-feet-three-inches tall Ira Goldman, who invented the Knee Defender, told CBS News that it is a necessary tool when flying.

“People want to do something to protect themselves,” Goldman told CBS News. “This has always been a problem, and it’s become a bigger problem the closer the seats are together.”


With airlines cutting every corner they can to make flying profitable, passengers have found themselves doing everything from paying for blankets to sitting in seats that have one to two inches less space. In some cases, there are simply no reclining seats at all.

For seats on flights that do still recline, Goldman thinks his plastic Knee Defender is just the ticket to a happier traveling experience.

“Nobody wants to buy this product, nobody wants to carry it around with them and deploy it for giggles,” Goldman said. “They do it because they’ve encountered problems, and they want to resolve it as best they can.”

Since the Knee Defender is not officially banned on flights, for now Goldman and his invention are free to keep making the skies more comfortable for some, although slightly less friendly.