Watch CBS News

United Flight Forced to Land in Chicago After 'Knee Defender' Sparks Altercation

By Wendy Widom

CHICAGO (CBS) — Thanks to a little gadget called the Knee Defender, the friendly skies just got a little less, well, friendly. United Flight 1462 traveling from Newark to Denver was forced to land in Chicago after two passengers got into an altercation over a reclining chair.


According to an anonymous law enforcement official, a man used the $21.95 device to prevent the seat in front of him from reclining while he used his laptop. After refusing to comply with the flight attendant's request to remove the lock, the woman seated in front of the man stood up and threw a cup of water at him. The fight escalated and United decided to land in Chicago.

Created in 2003 by Ira Goldman, who is over six feet tall, the Knee Defender claims to help you "stop reclining seats on airplanes so your knees won't have to." While airlines may not be thrilled with the device, so far it has not been banned by the FAA.

Ironically, the two passengers involved in the altercation were seated in Economy Plus, which boasts an extra four inches of legroom.

Are travelers becoming more selfish or is flying so unpleasant that passengers feel no choice but to defend their space? The Knee Defender, which claims on its website that it is "standing up for the right of the tall guy to sit down," thinks it has found the answer. What that means with regards to friendliness — and thrown water cups, diverted planes and common courtesy— is apparently another story.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.