Do airline passengers have the right to recline? Cast your vote

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(CNN) — Do airline passengers have the right to recline? That simmering debate among fliers escalated Sunday aboard a United Airlines flight that was diverted after two passengers argued over the use of a device that blocks reclining.

A Knee Defender, a gadget that “helps you stop reclining seats on airplanes so your knees won’t have to,” was at the root of the disturbance.

United Flight 1462 from Newark to Denver was forced to divert to Chicago’s O’Hare airport, according to United Airlines. The airline said that it does not allow the use of the recline-blocking device on its aircraft.

A federal law enforcement source, speaking on background, said the incident involved a male and a female passenger, both 48 years old.

The female passenger was unable to recline her seat and flagged a flight attendant.

The flight attendant told the man seated behind her to remove the Seat Defender device, but he declined. The female passenger then threw water in his face. The pilot decided to divert the flight to Chicago, where authorities met the aircraft.

The two passengers were removed from the plane before it continued on to Denver, United said. The passengers were not arrested.

The argument occurred in the Economy Plus section, which provides United passengers up to 5 inches of extra legroom compared with standard coach seats.


  • Janette

    I think passengers should be more considerate of the person sitting behind them. Especially if it is an overweight person. I’m not overweight but when the person in front of me reclines their seat, I feel like they are laying in my lap. I don’t have room to get comfortable and it’s very annoying . I usually never lean my seat back just because I don’t want to inconvenience the person behind me because I know how I feel about it. When a person in front of me does lean back I make it a point to constantly put in and remove stuff from the seat pocket and let up and down the tray so that irrates them. Tit for tat.

    • jen

      you are so mature aren’t you? they more then likely don’t do it to annoy you. and it is not my fault is someone is overweight when i fly for a meeting i want to be rested when i get there. everyone should grow up.

      • Renee

        That’s mature to say ” not my fault they are overweight” buy a first class ticket if you want to recline. seats are so increasingly small, be more considerate of others. I hope i never sit behind you, due to myself being long legged the person in front of me is reclining into my knee caps.

  • jen

    then the seats shouldn’t recline. Im 5 foot even so i don’t care if person in front of me reclines. I let tell them if they want to to go for it. you are rude thinking it isn’t ok. but what ever. if you don’t want the person in front if you to recline how about you sit in the very front row OR YOU buy a first class ticket.

  • Sue

    My husband is 6’8″ and if you try to recline in front of him, you will be unable to because his knees are his “recline blocker”. He is physically unable to remove said recline blocker. People in front of him try to recline and he has to tap them on the shoulder and let them know those are his knees they are jamming their seat into. They have always understood, apologized and refrained from their reclining attempts. I pray he never runs into Jen when flying. When he flies for business he likes to be rested and able-bodied when he lands, as well.

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