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The Knee Defender Is a Vile Thing

Everyone is talking about seat reclining. More specifically, everyone is talking about the Knee Defender, a terrible thing that some folks use when they’re not busy tempting humankind into sin. The Knee Defender is a gadget that you clip to the seatback tray in front of you to stop a plane seat from reclining. This product has been around for a while, but it was all over the news this week after two passengers got into a fight over it and ruined the flight for everyone onboard.  

Since the story broke, the Knee Defender has been selling like crazy. The inventor of the gadget said his site received 500 times its normal rate of traffic. Still, it’s unlikely that everyone’s going to start using this product on planes. First, the Knee Defender is banned by most major U.S. airlines, and rightly so. Second, the Knee Defender is the worst, and any passengers equipped with basic interpersonal skills will not use it.

My theory is everyone is buying this silly tool as a gag gift. The Knee Defender’s best use is as a stocking stuffer for your father-in-law, not as a device that you put to use on the back of a seat that does not belong to you. At $21.95, it’s the perfect 20-buck gag gift, falling in the same price range as stupid novelties like the Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure and the Butt Towel. Both of these products would be more appropriate to use on a plane than the Knee Defender. Leave the Knee Defender at home; bring the Butt Towel. Let’s hope the next time we see the Knee thing, it is at an office holiday Yankee swap, not clipped onto the back of a standard economy seat.  

Making matters more absurd, the Knee Defender website offers free courtesy cards to give to passengers who are confused about why their seats no longer work. You can print these at home and then cut them out with scissors.

Here is what the cards say:

Do Please Do Not Recline Your Seat

I have provided you with this card because I have long legs and if you recline your seat you will bang into my knees.

I realize that it can be nice to recline one’s seat, but I hope you would agree with me that it should not be done at the expense of crushing someone else’s knees – especially if this risk is known from the outset. Therefore, in order to avoid injuring me in the process, I would appreciate it if you would not recline your seat.

If you believe that this is an inconvenience for you – and I realize that it may be – then please complain to the airline so that they might be inspired to provide a solution.

Thank you. Have a nice flight.


This Courtesy Card™ provided courtesy of

This is not a joke. This is a real message that a company is encouraging people to distribute on airplanes. A ridiculous passive-aggressive note will definitely not alleviate any possible conflicts born from use of this device. Maybe instead of handing out stupid little note cards like a third grader on Valentine’s Day, you could act like you have reached adulthood and politely ask the person in front of you to refrain from reclining his or her seat. Or you could buy some knee pads. Another option is to stop crying and accept all of the standard annoyances that come with coach-class flying. Just accept it, or pay for an upgrade.

Would you use the Knee Defender?

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