Thursday, August 28, 2014
I bring this up because of a dispute you may have heard about: On Sunday, a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver made an unscheduled stop in Chicago to discharge two passengers who had a dispute over seat reclining. According to The Associated Press, a man in a middle seat installed the Knee Defender, a $21.95 device that keeps a seat upright, on the seatback in front of him.
A flight attendant asked him to remove the device. He refused. The woman seated in front of him turned around and threw water at him. The pilot landed the plane and booted both passengers off the flight.
I see this as a property rights question. Granted, the rights are defined by the airline in question, or possibly by the airline and its regulator(s). But I take it the seats can and will recline and the passenger seated in them has a right to recline, even though this occupies space that could otherwise be enjoyed by the person behind you.
On some cross country trip, my young son reclined his seat and the woman behind him violently pushed his seat back up. After several tries, he informed me and I turned around and asked the woman what she was doing. She informed me that my son could not recline his seat and wasn't too polite about it. I didn't argue with her. I just called the steward-person and informed her of the problem and she immediately told the woman that my child could indeed recline his seat and she just had to put up with it. She left, my son reclined his seat and I smugly enjoyed my adult beverage. So much is mere justice. Obviously installing a "Knee Defender" ups the ante. Airlines will probably have to ban them.