Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Knee Defender" Airplane Device Ignites Air Travel Battle: To Recline or Not?

This cartoon--overstating things a bit--is from Slate.
I've written in this space, recently even, about the extreme divide between Americans, on a variety of subjects. Usually, these battles fall directly along partisan lines, but there's a new one. New to me, anyway. And that is, the subject of whether or not an airline passenger should recline their seat in flight.

This never occurred to me as a "me vs. them" issue. I mean, never. I don't always recline my chair, but I often do. The comfort level increase is marginal, but it's often easier to catch a few Zs, or even get a better vantage point of your electronic device, book or movie from the ever-so-slightly-reclined position. Ellen DeGeneres used to do a bit on the laughable difference between reclined and upright, with a tiny shift of her upper body deciding her fate in an emergency: "[upright] live. . . [slight tilt] die."

The "Knee Defender", Image from USAToday
But, with the news item about a diverted United Airlines flight, sparked by two passengers fighting over leg room (and the use of a "Knee Defender" gadget that locks another passenger's seat upright), two camps have emerged: a) people who think that passengers who recline are unfathomably rude; and b) people who recline, and are mightily pissed that they're being called rude!  The no-recliners claim that the other passenger is invading their space, and the recliners claim that the other passenger is preventing them from using the space they've paid for.

There is no way this is a new issue, but I'll be damned if I've ever heard of it. Certainly, occasionally, a seat will over-recline, and I can see politely asking for someone to adjust a bit. And I'm aware that not everyone is 5' 8" like me, and are more cramped than I am. And I'd get it if I was over-hogging an arm rest, if I were grotesquely obese, and overflowed into another passenger's seat. I'd get it if by reclining my seat, I was doing something that is somehow not allowed, breaking the rules by misusing the seat. But these seats are designed to recline!

You can put me firmly in the "I am inclined to recline" camp. If you ask me nicely, I may accommodate you. If you're rude to me about it? Forget it. I'll wallow in that reclined seat.


United flight diverts over 'Knee Defender' fight

On Sunday, a fight between two passengers over personal space, a thrown cup of water and the use of a controversial plastic gadget that prevents airline seats from reclining caused United Airlines Flight 1462 from Newark, N.J., to Denver to divert to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the AP reports. . .

Read more at: USAToday

And here is a link to a previous story about the appropriateness of reclining: The Recline and Fall of Western Civilization

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