Barring mechanical issues or flight delays for other reasons, commercial air travel is not too bad if you are lucky enough to snag a first or business class seat. But back in the coach section, things can get a little tight. Seat width is always an issue these days, and the passive aggressive fight over who gets the arm rest – at least the front part of it – can be quite a dance. But when that so-and-so in front of you wants to eat up what little remaining space you have by reclining their seat onto your knees, things can really heat up.
This past Sunday, a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver had to be diverted because of a dust-up over a reclining seat. Apparently, some travelers in the know have discovered a gadget called a Knee Defender. This is a device that attaches to an airline seat that stops or limits the recline angle of the seat immediately in front. A passenger on Sunday’s flight had attached the Knee Defender to his seat, and when the woman seated in front of him could not recline, she called the flight attendant. The flight attendant saw the device and told the man that he had to remove it. When he refused, the thwarted recliner threw water in the man’s face. Thereafter, the pilot decided to divert to Chicago where authorities met the two passengers. The two were removed from the flight, but no arrests were made.
One is reminded of the old School House Rock episode about elbow room: “One thing you’ll discover when you get next to one another is everybody needs some elbow room.” We all need our space, and it would be great if we could all be more courteous travelers, but it would be even better if there truly were a little more room in coach.