Knee Defender
October 25, 2003 12:17 PM   Subscribe

Knee Defender is a product that airline passengers can use to keep the person in front of them from reclining their seat during a flight. They market it as an alternative to deep vein thrombosis and lawsuits (Warning: Flash Menu). It is creating a stir in the news. But people with long legs who do not want to detract from a fellow passenger's enjoyment can always save their money and consult the Seat Guru (SG previously discussed here). (Via Fark.)
posted by cup (77 comments total)

 
I want one of these! I am only about 5'9", but I have really long legs, and when the person in front of me reclines their seat, that seat sits on top of my kneecaps.

Frankly, airplane seats do not need to be reclined. Behaviour on airplanes is plenty tacky enough without the rudeness of the reclining people, both the to the ones who sit behind them and the ones sitting next to them.
posted by sperare at 12:29 PM on October 25, 2003


What this guy said:

"Sorry, fella, I have every right to recline as I sleep my way from LAX to JFK," another groused. "If you want the 'air space' of the seat back in front of you, you should have bought a 1st class ticket."
posted by muckster at 12:30 PM on October 25, 2003


Maybe this will finally get the airlines to stop allowing people to recline in coach. It should be a rule read by flight attendants at the beginning of every flight - don't recline your seat unless there's no one sitting in the seat behind you. And it's not just for tall people - ever tried using a laptop with a reclined seat in front of you? Or a seat that reclines halfway through the flight and smacks the top of your screen?
posted by transona5 at 12:35 PM on October 25, 2003


Score! Now I can stop those assholes from lowering their seat during my meal using this rather than the lid of my laptop!
posted by shepd at 12:57 PM on October 25, 2003


Wait! This gizmo appears to stop the seat reclining by blocking the reclining mechanism --- thus interfering with equipment onboard an aircraft. Isn't this a terrorist act? Looking forward to what the TSA has to say ... :)
posted by kaemaril at 1:08 PM on October 25, 2003


It's called common courtesy and compromise. I don't slam my seat back in a violent fashion and am more than happy to pull my seat up a bit to accommodate both your legs and my desire to recline, if you ask nicely*. Flying in economy is not comfortable no matter what your size, so a little give and take is essential. Be an asshole, though, and it's right back at ya.

If, perchance, some fuckwit decides to use this on my next ten hour flight back to Dallas, I can forsee their beverage of choice being laced with heavy duty laxatives. Won't be needing that little plastic thingie in the bathrooms, eh bucko?

*Purposely bouncing your knees against my seatback for extended periods of time does not count. There is a proven inverse relationship between my bitchy stubbornness and the amount of time you continue to kick the back of my seat after I have moved it up a bit.
posted by romakimmy at 1:14 PM on October 25, 2003


Now if only we could have little plastic doodads to be able to avoid any and all forms of polite requests.

Instead of "I hope you don't mind if I ask you not to recline your chair as my knees are jammed up against the back of your seat as it is." you can now say "hey buddy, eat this" while jamming a plastic phallic-looking thing into the back of his seat.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:17 PM on October 25, 2003


What Space Coyote said. The first reaction does not always have to be hostility.
posted by JanetLand at 1:30 PM on October 25, 2003


An easier approach: next time someone reclines into your face during the meal, cough or sneeze on their head. They'll pop that seat right back up in no time.

..but you may want to cough a few more times after they've sat up (for the sake of realism) or they'll catch on. You can also aim your air vent at the back of their head; I don't know why this one works, but it does.
posted by aramaic at 1:36 PM on October 25, 2003


PassiveAggressiveFilter
posted by Space Coyote at 1:52 PM on October 25, 2003


As someone who flies fairly frequently and has made one of the longest flights imaginable (26+ hours from Singapore, including stopover in Germany), here's my advice: grow up. I agree that recliners are annoying, but I would be far more pissed off if someone used one of those on me. It shows a huge amount of selfishness and a lack of common courtesy, not unlike... the people who it's trying to stop from reclining all the way. And don't even get me started on the comment card.
posted by jed at 2:11 PM on October 25, 2003


JanetLand, I've given up on being nice.

On economy, everyone turns into an asshole. It's a Free For All. I planned to do a similar thing with a ruler on the next flight, but this will help.

If you want to recline, buy a better seat. You have no right to stop me from eating. When you have a big guy sitting behind you, you should know better. :-)

Yes, I've complained about it on my last 4 or 5 flights. Some airlines don't even have rules about it. It's crazy.

aramaic, I've tried that. I've tried stuff like "Hey, Flight Attendant, I have Asian Flu. You have any tylenols or something?". These people don't give a crap. People turn into animals when they're packed in like that. Any Stewardess can tell you that. That's the only reason drinks are still free on most economy fares. Without them to calm the masses, absolute anarchy ensues.

And yes, if you put your seat down, mine goes down. And don't even think of using your arm to stop it. I gave the last guy the funny bone of his life when he elbowed my seat (and learned some really cool new serbian swear words). If you were using one of those, you'd be paying for a broken tray if I were in front. Basically, on economy, if you recline, the entire row has to do so to accomodate you. Therefore, the damn seats should simply not recline. It'd save $0.10 on your next flight, anyways.

and jed, three letter for ya: TFB.

I think next flight I'll wear a T-shirt - "I'm an asshole passenger. Find another seat." That should solve the problem.

And no, I don't recline on flights when given the choice. And I'd elect for club seats, but so few planes actually offer them at reasonable prices (4x normal airfare isn't reasonable for a seat taking up 2x the room), or they just don't have them on the plane _at all_.

(rant over)
posted by shepd at 2:18 PM on October 25, 2003


I do a lot of long-haul flights... and there's a secret to great legroom in economy. Get the first row.
Otherwise, I'd be buying that product asap. The comment card is tacky -on the other hand, a strong hand-shake, an introduction and a quick explanation has always worked for me.
posted by ruelle at 2:19 PM on October 25, 2003


I never fly, but I have long legs and one "bad knee" so I can undrstand why people would want this invention. A while back I went on short car trip and I was in the back seat. the guy in front of me shoved his seat back all the way, cramping me up. I asked him to move, he wouldn't. I started hitting him in the back of the head with the bottom of my shoe until he moved. I guess that wouldn't work on a plane though.
posted by bargle at 2:30 PM on October 25, 2003


Correct ruelle. Although you can also ask for a bulkhead seat too (I probably shouldn't share that tip!)
posted by LukeyBoy at 2:33 PM on October 25, 2003


Seats recline, that's the way they are made.

Until the airlines retool to prevent seats from reclining I'll continue to suck it up... that is, when I'm not fully reclined and unconscious.

You don't like it... tough shit. I paid good money to be crammed into a cigar tube, aptted down and insulted every step of the way and I'm damn well going to be as comfortable as I can possibly be. I have a system for flying, it starts with heavy doses of barbituates on the way to the airport, being sure to arrive early enough that I get at least hour in the bar while I wait for the dope to kick in and culminates with my fully reclined snoring and farting self as close to comatose I can possibly be while still breathing.

It makes for a pleasant flight... at least when they let me board.
posted by cedar at 2:38 PM on October 25, 2003


...a plastic phallic-looking thing...

So this Knee Defender, it vib....
ya know, in the midst of making a MeFi clichè, I got a brilliant idea. This Knee Defender thingy *should* vibrate, in the form of giving the reclinee a back massage. Getting some sort of Shaper Image shiatsu vibrating action might make people more amicable to not reclining their seats.
posted by romakimmy at 2:46 PM on October 25, 2003


Great post, cup.

I just flew round trip to Japan, around 10 hrs there and 8+ hours back. I flew Coach. I'm 6' tall with long legs. I used my seat recline (not during meals and snacks, but during the majority of the flight including movies) and as I expected, the one in front of me was liberally used. That seemed to be the norm on the flight.

Change the expectations of passengers first.
posted by vito90 at 3:20 PM on October 25, 2003


i've done singapore to uk via frankfurt. with horrendous german passengers seeking lebensraum at the expense of the good sgt.
rest assured i kneed them on the beaches and i kneed them on the landing grounds , we will defend our island !
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:23 PM on October 25, 2003


To the people that say tough shit...I can't wait to fly with you.

I'm tall and have knees for shit. Whenever someone leans back, I ask politely to move up a bit and if they don't then I just make sure that they can't rest. I bounce the hell out of my knees the entire flight, or until they sit up.

You want to tell me tough shit, I'll meet you outside the plane when we land.
posted by damnitkage at 4:30 PM on October 25, 2003


I can't see the point of reclining; it is so minimal that the recliner doesn't get any real added comfort, but the poor chuffer behind has his already limited space further invaded.
Nobody wins, as far as I can tell.
posted by Fat Buddha at 4:36 PM on October 25, 2003


I don't get it. Is everyone on MeFi an asshole when it comes to flying? I'm 6'0", and I'd certainly prefer the person in front of me not recline, but I wouldn't dream of asking them not to. I tend not to recline myself, since I find it less comfortable. But as far as whoever is sitting in front of me goes - I figure it's their seat, they paid for it, and I don't have much of a right to tell them that they can't use a feature that is a part of their seat.

Maybe there's something wrong with me.
posted by Chanther at 4:42 PM on October 25, 2003


Wow. Touchy, aren't we? You tall people need to calm down. It's bad enough we have to deal with you lumbering around and using up more than your fair share of air and other sparse resources, now you don't want people to be comfortable on airplanes? Insane.
posted by Outlawyr at 5:33 PM on October 25, 2003


Coach class seats should not recline. And if you recline in front of me, expect to have my knee in your back the entire flight. And it's not because I'm trying to be rude, it's simply because there's no other spot for the knee. Airlines definitely need to remove this "feature" from the seats.

Now, the secret to airline bliss is on planes that have two rows of exit rows right next to each other, get the second of those two rows, because the ones in front of you don't recline, and on top of that you get the extra leg room.
posted by piper28 at 6:02 PM on October 25, 2003


Maybe there's something wrong with me

Yep, there is. You're short.

(j/k; don't kill me!)
posted by aramaic at 6:08 PM on October 25, 2003


The real enemy here is the money-grubbing airlines for causing people to suffer just so they can make a few more bucks. Decent standards need to be implemented, and people should work towards this end rather than bickering about tiny reclining seats.
posted by Poagao at 7:16 PM on October 25, 2003


damnitkage: "You want to tell me tough shit, I'll meet you outside the plane when we land."

Wow, I never realized that the tall were so grouchy. May I suggest a circular saw, a bottle of good Scotch and a pencil mark scribed around your legs... say about halfway between the ankle and knee? Then you could get the really roomy handicapped seats or at least a free upgrade.

Dude, it's not my fault your uncomfortable on airplanes. I didn't design the plane and I'm not swimming around in your gene pool. It really isn't my problem and I'd advise taking it up with your favorite airline rather than the guy in front of you... it's my fucking seat and I'll use it as I see fit.

So tough shit. Double tough shit. Triple quadruple tough shit. Buy a better seat ya circus freak you.
posted by cedar at 7:21 PM on October 25, 2003


Dude, I'm not a circus freak, but I can see over the counter at the liquor store without having to have someone give me a boost.

That being said, I said I don't mind if people lean back some. I'm not unreasonable, but when thoughtless pricks just slam their seat back jamming my knees up into my nose, I do ask politely, as I said, if they would kindly move up just a tad.

Let me know next flight you're on cedar. We'll be great flightmates!
posted by damnitkage at 7:27 PM on October 25, 2003


You'd be bored... I'm pretty much unconscious most of the time... but sometimes I projectile vomit unexpectedly.

People do seem to enjoy that.
posted by cedar at 7:41 PM on October 25, 2003


"The real enemy here is the money-grubbing airlines..."

More so because while increasing seat density might improve profits somewhat on popular flights that are constantly overbooked, a vast majority of the routes I've found myself on aren't fully booked and could easily have had two or three rows of seats fewer to add an inch or two of legroom.

That couple of extra bucks on the popular flight is costing airlines more passenger goodwill.
posted by majick at 7:44 PM on October 25, 2003


I may be weird, but I've actually asked people behind me if they mind if I recline.

The answer has universally been, "No problem!"

Really.
posted by Lafe at 9:52 PM on October 25, 2003


"Dude, it's not my fault your uncomfortable on airplanes. I didn't design the plane and I'm not swimming around in your gene pool. It really isn't my problem and I'd advise taking it up with your favorite airline rather than the guy in front of you... it's my fucking seat and I'll use it as I see fit."

And they're my fucking knees and legs and I'll use as them I see fit. Of course using as them I see fit would probabably entail repeatedly kneeing the back of your seat as hard as I can for the rest of the flight as I attempt to get into a less painful position.
posted by MikeMc at 10:00 PM on October 25, 2003


The real enemy here is the money-grubbing airlines for causing people to suffer just so they can make a few more bucks.

Bingo! On a recent flight from Chicago to Houston, I spent the 2.75 hours as one third of a three-fat-people-jammed-into-one-row mishegoss. When we landed, none of us were fully capable of using our arms for several minutes, as the blood circulation was reduced to about nil somewhere over Iowa. We were the last off of the plane (despite being in row 7) because none of us trusted our ability to pick up/pull down and hoist our carry-on baggage until we'd had time to undo the kinks.

I mentioned something about this when I checked in for my return flight and said "You know, for all the information about us that you guys have on your computers, you'd think that you could make a little note like 'tall person' or 'fat person' or 'very small person' or 'parent with baby' so that everyone could be seated comfortably." The ticket agent just laughed and said "We'd probably be sued if we tried something like that." I laughed and agreed, but it when I thought more on the idea, it occurred to me that anyone who'd sue over that would have to be an idiot. If it would mean not riding like a sardine or with knees jammed up into your ears -- which is unadvisable from a safety standpoint as well as the obvious comfort perspective -- how could that possibly be worse than being flagged as a potential terrorist because your name is David Nelson, like 3,712 other men in America?

The airlines go to great lengths to encourage us, on "short" domestic flights, to stay in our seats. This despite the knowledge that the mere act of getting up, stretching our legs and walking down the aisle just a bit is the best preventative for deep vein thrombosis.

They jam us into seats that are 17 inches wide and 15 inches deep, placed 12 inches apart, and never suggest asking before reclining and putting yourself into the tiny space of the person behind. (Measure the chair you're sitting in, think about its relative comfort for long stetches of time, and compare.)

Despite growing knowledge the importance and benefits of adequate hydration when flying, they gladly hand out 12 ounce cans of caffeinated (and cheap) soda but if you want water or juice, you get a 5 ounce plastic cup that's only 80% full, and that's it. Don't think of asking for refill -- unless you're drinking caffeinated coffee, then you can have a second 8 ounce cup.

For all of the talk about safety (which is really about preserving corporate assets - planes are expensive) there is absolutely no interest in personal safety of passengers. Since most cases of bruising, compression injuries and DVT manifest themselves well after the passenger is out of the airlines' area of responsibility, they will continue to treat us as chattel without regard to the danger posed and damage done thanks to their seating schemes.
posted by Dreama at 12:55 AM on October 26, 2003


I'd just like to point out that the symptoms of DVT from that first DVT link are, well, understated:
swelling of the leg more like ballooning of the leg
warmth and redness of the leg more like intense burning
pain that is noticeable, or worse when standing or walking this is close, as long as you define 'noticeable' as enough pain to prevent you from standing up on your own so you have to crawl to the phone, and when helped to a standing position, will drive you into shock (pale skin, cold sweat, hyperventillation) in about 30 seconds

I've been the winner of three DVT's. I'd rather not have another, thanks.
posted by plinth at 5:41 AM on October 26, 2003


The real enemy here is the money-grubbing airlines for causing people to suffer just so they can make a few more bucks. Decent standards need to be implemented, and people should work towards this end rather than bickering about tiny reclining seats.

Exactly. The rest of you, on both sides of the argument? Appallingly childless. Attack the root of the problem; don't turn on each other like mad, mindless dogs.
posted by rushmc at 5:52 AM on October 26, 2003


I prefer an aisle seat so I can occasionally stretch my legs out a bit even when the guy in front of me is reclining. Unfortunately, I usually end up with someone sitting in the window seat who has a bladder the size of a pinto bean and has to run to the lavatory 429 times per flight. With the seats in front of us reclined, this makes for a 10 minute operation each trip, with the bladder person alternately standing and sitting and scooching her (it's always a woman) way towards the aisle. I'm trying to stand aside as best I can meanwhile, while flattening myself enough to allow unruly children to run by and beverage carts to manuver through.
posted by Oriole Adams at 8:26 AM on October 26, 2003


How do you actually talk to the people in the seats ahead or behind you? How do you even get their attention? Stick your head over the top of the seat and scare the hell out of everyone, or get up and walk out into the aisle and talk to them from there, thereby annoying the other folks in your row, or do you just yell at them through the seat and hope they realize it's you? I don't get it. I can't even imagine how this is supposed to work.

Air travel just plain sucks. I'm sure they could find ways to make it more annoying, but there's really no need to bother; the profit-hungry airline companies in concert with the brain-dead TSA have already made the experience so unpleasant that I simply won't fly unless I simply have to go somewhere and flying is the only way to get there. It's a two hour flight to California from here, but last time I visited I spent 13+ hours driving instead. It was cheaper *and* more comfortable.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:21 AM on October 26, 2003


The rest of you, on both sides of the argument? Appallingly childless.

rushmc, did you mean childish?
posted by bwg at 9:39 AM on October 26, 2003


What airline are you people flying?

I ask, because I'm 6'-1", I fly fairly frequently -- generally on American or United -- and it's been years since I sat in a coach seat that A) didn't have enough knee room, or B) could recline more than a couple of inches anyway.

So I'd really like to be forewarned against whatever airline y'all are flying, because apparently their seats are too small, and their customers are all raging assholes.
posted by ook at 11:54 AM on October 26, 2003


on economy, if you recline, the entire row has to do so to accommodate you
Huh? I have never seen a plane where all the seats in a row recline as one unit.

At 6'1", I have my knees touching the back of the seat in front of me even when it is not reclined, usually. This is exacerbated by having to slide down the seat if I want to rest my head on the seatback. I also have large feet, so have trouble getting them to comfortably fit in the space under the seat in front. I always make sure I check-in early and ask for an exit row window seat, which has ample space for my legs and only requires me to agree to help open the door in an emergency. Added bonus - first out the door if things do go wrong, so less chance of being trampled in the rush. Virgin Blue are the most accommodating airline in this respect, I have found.

Anyone who truly expects people to pay for a reclining seat and then not recline it is living in dreamland. As soon as I hear the ding on the PA system that mean "our take-off was more or less successful and we are not going to crash in the next few minutes", my seat goes all the way back, (slowly so as to allow the person behind a chance to get their knees out of the way) my seat belt gets loosened and I continue reading my book and ignoring all those around me who are not bringing me free food. I bring the seat upright if meals are being served but, apart from that, it stays reclined. If the person in front of me does the same, I figure that is their right and live with it.

I wonder if those saying that the airlines should move the seats further apart would say the same when the fares go up to accommodate the smaller number of paying passengers they can cram in a plane?
posted by dg at 5:16 PM on October 26, 2003


it's my fucking seat and I'll use it as I see fit.

Now that's the spirit of selfish American assholiness I know! Hey, while you're at it:

"It's my fucking cigar and I'll smoke it wherever I want. Smoking's still legal in this country."

"It's my fucking car and I'll drive it as aggresively as I can. My need to get to work is more important than your safety."

"It's my fucking child and I'll bring them to whatever theater I see fit. Making strangers feel the terror of my child is the only pleasure I get out of life."

All you self-centered, "I'm the only person that matters so to hell with civility" assholes need a severe beating and ass-raping, preferably from someone who's had enough of your childish behavior. If you choose to remain in society, you will conduct yourself in a civilized nature, or suffer the beatings that you most certainly deserve.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:30 PM on October 26, 2003


ook, just guessing here, but you're not fat, are you? I'm a bit over 6'1" and when I was fat I couldn't get enough room on planes, including leg room, as my big ass pushed me forward in the seat. Since I've been at a middle-range BMI of 22.5, Suddenly I have leg room on planes, whether or not the person in front of me reclines.

And I can't get enough of the macho bluster from people that bought seating in the section too small to accommodate them, and blame the people in front of them for their failure. If you can't fit in the accommodations afforded to you by an economy ticket, you don't belong in economy, and it's not the fault of the person in front of you. You both paid for a reclining seat, and the possibility that someone else would recline the seat in front of you. If that level of space guaranteed to you in that scenario can't accommodate you, then it falls on you to pay for roomier accommodations.
posted by NortonDC at 7:05 PM on October 26, 2003


Weight: 150 BMI: 21. Body fat %: 7. And I still find the seating cramped. So I'm in better shape than you, Norton, and somehow I mysteriously think someone leaning into my lap is uncomfortable. Astounding.

Yes, while it would be wonderful and gooey-sweet if the airlines gave us more room, the fact is they don't. So, you have two choices: deal with it like a mature adult living in a civilized society (i.e., don't recline too much, ask beforehand, etc.), or like a complete asshole ("If you can't fit, it's your fault.") There are lots of times in life where situations present themselves and leave you these options, it's just that some people think of their fellow man, and others only think of themselves. I'm-a-guessin', Norton, you're one of the latter.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:22 PM on October 26, 2003


No, Civil_Disobedient it's not about waiting for anyone to give you more room, it's about you paying more to get more room when you know that the accommodations in economy don't guarantee you what you've decided you require.

But why step up to plate and pay for what you want when you can try to use physical intimidation instead, right? Yeah, that's perfectly fucking civil.

And, for a person in my ethnic demographic (Asians may be given tighter guidelines due to their greater propensity for developing abdominal fat, which carries the highest level of risk), I'm dead center on the range of target BMIs, which is set by looking for statistical, population-wide increases in weight related health maladies coming from excess or insufficient weight, so having a lower BMI actually pushes you closer to the threshold showing increases in weight-related problems, meaning your BMI does not indicate you are healthier than I.
posted by NortonDC at 7:41 PM on October 26, 2003


Looks like this is just the two of us...

It's understood that you get what you pay for. You pay for a seat with certain restrictions in size. When someone leans back -- and mind you, I'm referring to completely reclining, not a slight tilt for comfort's sake -- they are taking away the space you once had when you boarded the plane and sat in your seats. When someone selfishly removes your comfort for their own extra confort, it forces everyone to be an ass to the guy behind them just to get back the small amount of space originally allotted. Much like when someone decides to stand at a concert.

BMI is a useless measurement. Height versus weight? Worthless unless you know how much of that weight is fat and how much is muscle. Which is why I added my body fat percentage. I work out, and most of my weight is bone and muscle; so while it may not necessarily mean I am more fit than you, which wasn't really my original intent, it does respond rather directly against the allusion that I might not like airline seating because I'm anything at all like my more corpulant whitey brethren. And if I think the space is too small for reclining, I can't even imagine how uncomfortable it must be for overweight or tall people.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:14 PM on October 26, 2003


Oh, and as for the physical intimidation, I've found that selfish people, on their own, will refuse to act according to the social conventions that keep civilization flowing smoothly unless there is a direct threat of (personal) physical harm. I'm plenty civil to someone who cuts me in line, for instance, saying my "excuse me's" and "would you be ever so kind's", but when this fails, standing back on a high moral horse will do nothing to change that person's behavior in the future.

There are rules, both written and unwritten, to being a part of a society. Break those rules to your own detriment.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:19 PM on October 26, 2003


The idea that, when you buy a seat on a plane, you also buy the space allocated to the seat in front of you when it is reclined is where you are wrong, Civil_Disobedient. If you want to talk about people playing by the rules, then consider how you come up with a "rule" that it is unfair to recline your seat in a plane? If you were not supposed to recline the seat, the seat would not be able to recline in the first place. Surely that is not too hard to understand? The only way anyone would be breaking any social rules or conventions or being rude in any way is if they somehow modified the seat so that it reclines beyond the amount it was designed for. Reclining your seat is not the same in any way as someone standing up at a concert - reclining your seat is not taking someone else's space at all - it is merely using the space that has been allocated for your seat in the first place. What is rude is someone getting upset because the person in front of them reclines the seat and starts kicking the seat back or using other arseholery to try and claim more space for themselves.
posted by dg at 8:50 PM on October 26, 2003


The real enemy here is the money-grubbing airlines...

Hmmmm... they're all nearly bankrupt, so I'm not persuaded that money-grubbing is an apt characterization. Perhaps if all the anti-recliners got together and formed a big enough market, they could persuade airlines to offer a class of service somewhere between coach and business. Would anyone pay an extra $150 - $200 round trip for seats that are far enough apart to accommodate taller or bigger people?
posted by spotmeter at 9:09 PM on October 26, 2003


Is this something you'd have to fly in coach to know about?
posted by trharlan at 10:12 PM on October 26, 2003


Would anyone pay an extra $150 - $200 round trip for seats that are far enough apart to accommodate taller or bigger people?
The seats are far enough apart. The problem (as I see it) is that people expect to pay economy class fares and get business class facilities. You get what you pay for and you know what you are getting in advance, so don't bother complaining.
posted by dg at 10:23 PM on October 26, 2003


rushmc, did you mean childish?

Wow. Yes, yes, I did.

The seats are far enough apart.

Tell that to all the people suffering blood clots and other ills. There is a significant difference between airlines, though. I recently flew American to test their advertising push that they are offering more legroom, and the space was tolerable, which it has not been on other flights I've made for some time. If it's an important issue to you, fly American and tell them that's why you chose them.
posted by rushmc at 8:25 AM on October 27, 2003


I say this with complete sincerity: I had no idea that reclining my seat potentially caused the person behind me great discomfort. Seriously. I'm 5'6" and not fat and never really noticed any great inconvenience to myself when the person in front of me reclinded. Sure, I'd rather have more room but I figured having my tray table pushed into my lap was just part of the fun of flying. (Note: my SO is tall so when we fly together, we usually go for exit row seating anyway.)

However, and again I am completely sincere, I will ask the person behind me if he or she minds if I recline my seat, should I decide to do so, on all future flights. Especially since I would probably end up getting into a fight with some one if they opted to use a "Knee Defender" on me rather than ask me to just raise the seat some. I hate that passive aggressive stranger communication bullshit.
posted by jennyb at 9:09 AM on October 27, 2003


Oh and woe to the jackass who hands me one of these instead of just telling me verbally about the Knee Defender, or even better yet, asking that I please not recline the seat.

It's really okay to politely speak up for yourself and express your needs/wishes, especially if you can develop the willingness to accept the fact that your needs can sometimes not be accomodated. I've found it usually saves a lot of anger and resentment in life.
posted by jennyb at 9:16 AM on October 27, 2003


dg, everyone has to recline to reclaim their space. No, they don't all recline at the same time, but I paid for x cubic feet of space, and I'll be getting it through whatever means are necessary, TYVM. I've seen this happen more than once. The whole column/row (jeez, I get them confused on airlines) has to go back because otherwise someone ends up screwed (well, the guys at the back are always screwed, oh well).

Civil Disobedient, last time I checked, people don't die when they don't recline. Straw Man argument.

Now, let's make it more realistic. A jerk and decides to drive at exactly the same speed as me, beside me, in the passing lane, while I'm signalling to be there. The knee defender is like setting up speed bumps in front of the bad driver. He has to slow down to avoid ruining his car, and bingo, instant forced civility.

You don't deny me my right to enjoy the entire amount of cubic feet the airline sold me, right? THEN DON'T RECLINE. When you do, I think you should be paying 25% of my ticket (being that I get so few cubic feet to start with, that's about the size of it).

BTW: Thanks jennyb. If you can just keep it up during meals, that's all most people will ask. It's impossible to eat without getting food in your hair if you don't (yes, I will be dropping my salad on the next person's head who does this after being asked not to). I'm sure you'd agree.
posted by shepd at 12:48 PM on October 27, 2003


(1) Coach seats should not recline at all. The real discomforts in coach are (a) sitting way to close to the strangers next to you; and (b) having your legs/knees/feet cramped because of the seat in front of you.

Reclining does nothing to address (a) or (b) for the reclining person, and makes (b) worse for the person behind him.

(2) AA has phased out some "expanded legroom" in coach. I was recently on an AA F-100 that was clearly not "expanded" -- and the crew did not make the "expanded legroom" announcement.

(3) For those that blame the airlines for the crowded spaces: blame the consumer. Consumers have made clear to the airlines that the bottom line ticket price is far more important than marginal increases in quality of service. Southwest, ATA, and the others are killing United and American. UAL is bankrupt and AA came close. The lesson of the marketplace seems to be no-frills and uncomfortable wins. This is entirely consumer selection, not evil corporate greed.
posted by Mid at 12:50 PM on October 27, 2003


You can't impose your own communication style upon other people, jennyb. Not everyone shares the same comfort or skill level, and people who are different than you are not automatically "jackasses." I wouldn't ask someone not to recline their seat because in my opinion they are entitled to do so. However, when they do, it causes me substantial discomfort and distress (the blame for which is clearly with the airlines, IMO), so I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. Worst of all is the fact the majority of people seem so oblivious to their surroundings and their impact on others (as you admit yourself to have been) that when they do recline their seat, most in my experience do not slowly ease it back to give me a chance to adjust myself to accommodate the seat as best I can, but SLAM it back quickly, as though feeling ashamed and guilty for doing so, which of course results in a lot more pain and/or damage to my knees.

I wouldn't use a Knee Defender unless they were provided by the airline, but if I were seated behind you (and knew it), I'd make an exception, given your attitude. Bring it on!
posted by rushmc at 12:54 PM on October 27, 2003


But see, rushmc, now that I know (and I'm very happy to have learned this), I'd ask you first if you minded if I reclined. Thus preventing our need to start the Rumble at 30,000 Feet.

I do recognize that not everyone is comfortable approaching strangers about various needs. My exasperation is more for the person who would hand me the Knee Defender card rather than just say something even if it's "You can't put your seat back because I've stuffed this piece of plastic there." It just reminds me of old roommates who would smile and ask me how my day was when I walked in and tossed my coat on the chair, then leave me a note asking me to please hang my coat in the closet rather than toss it on a chair.

You're right in that "jackass" is pretty strong language, given that all the poor person did was hand me a card. However, I do think you're unfairly suggesting that I think everyone who is different from me is a jackass, though. I'm thankful for all the people that are different from me; it keeps the rate of in-flight fisticuffs to a minimum! I'm just not fond of people who voluntarily use passive-aggressive communication methods.

Just as your preference to suffer in silence when some one reclines their seat in front of you is okay, my preference to find jackassity in the use of a card (with checkmarks, even) to explain the use of Knee Defender is okay, too.

(My use of the words "woe" and "fight" were admittedly a bit of aggro hyperbole. If I were actually confronted with the situation (which isn't likely given my newly declared habit of asking before reclining) I'd probably hand the card back/mention the Knee Defender and say, "All you had to do was ask me not to recline my seat and I would happily have done that for you.")
posted by jennyb at 1:26 PM on October 27, 2003


shepd - You don't deny me my right to enjoy the entire amount of cubic feet the airline sold me, right? THEN DON'T RECLINE. When you do, I think you should be paying 25% of my ticket (being that I get so few cubic feet to start with, that's about the size of it).

Completely backward. You paid for a reclinable seat of certain dimensions placed so far from another reclinable seat. Exactly what the schmoe in front of you paid for, too. If the "placed so far from another reclinable seat" doesn't meet your requirements, then it falls to you to pay more for in return for more room. Your decision to not pay for more room does not entitle you to interfere with the operation of the other passenger's seating.

Now, once you accept the truth of that, then you can move on to more creative ways to buy more room, like offering the person in front of you $100 to forfeit the use of the reclining ability they paid for. Yes, that's a lot cheaper than buying a first class ticket, but no, I don't expect anyone whining or posing in here to pursue it because it would involve an admission that reserving the volume of space that could be occupied by the seat in front of them transfers something of value from the person in front to you.

So go ahead, ignore that this denies people the use of something they (and not you) paid for, and keep torquing up the bluster to distract us from that. Really, a lot of this (not so much shepd) comes off as a temper tantrum triggered by not getting to to steal someone else's dollie.
posted by NortonDC at 1:51 PM on October 27, 2003


Just as your preference to suffer in silence when some one reclines their seat in front of you is okay

It's far from my preference, which would be more along the lines of flying to my destinations in a private jet, alone save for a pilot and a couple attractive young women wearing miniskirts and smiles to peel my grapes and play canasta with. It's just my choice, under the circumstances, because the potential outcomes of other available choices can be even more unpleasant (many people will not nod and say "sure, I'll leave my seat up, no problem" if asked—antisocial behavior is on the rise, if you hadn't noticed).

I can understand your objection to passive-aggressive expression, but you should make allowances for other motives which may result in similar behavior, methinks.
posted by rushmc at 2:55 PM on October 27, 2003


what kind of concerts are you people going to where standing up is frowned upon?
posted by muckster at 3:20 PM on October 27, 2003


AA has phased out some "expanded legroom" in coach. I was recently on an AA F-100 that was clearly not "expanded" -- and the crew did not make the "expanded legroom" announcement.

This was probably a former TWA plane. They haven't retrofitted all of those.
posted by kindall at 4:05 PM on October 27, 2003


Kindall -- Maybe, but I read an article in the WSJ that said that AA was selectively phasing out the legroom on specific routes where they think it has not made a competitive difference.

IIRC, vacation flights to Florida is one of the categories where they figure that price beats legroom.
posted by Mid at 4:16 PM on October 27, 2003


So go ahead, ignore that this denies people the use of something they (and not you) paid for, and keep torquing up the bluster to distract us from that.

I consider it preserving my right to the cubic feet of space I paid for. If it really were by the seat, then why isn't your luggage measured by the bag than by size and weight?

You see, the airlines make it clear you are paying for the cubic feet available by the fact they offer more for a higher cost. They'd make it by your weight (like for one of the two luggage requirements), but then they'd be sued.

Moreover, even if it were paid per seat (which it isn't, ask anyone who is medically morbidly obese how the airline accomodates them) it is *NOT* for the reclining. How can I prove this? Let them seat you in front of a bulkhead and find out.

I paid for x cubic feet and I expect to have them, despite your thinking I paid for a "reclining seat", which I show is clearly not true. And I really hope you sit in front of me, because I will be using one of these devices. >:-D
posted by shepd at 9:09 AM on October 28, 2003


I'm tellin' ya, shepd, you just gotta wait for him when he gets off the plane, then knock him upside the head. While he lays there unconscious, write a little courtesy card like:

"You have been visited by Captain Courtesy!
In the future, please refrain from being a jerk. I wanted to let you know that your selfishness will continue to be punished in the future. So you understand your crime, I have checked off the corresponding offense:
__ You cut me in line.
__ You drive like a maniac.
__ You talked on your cell phone all during the movie.
__ You put your seat all the way back on the plane.
__ Other (fill in)"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:05 AM on October 28, 2003


shepd, if you fly as cargo, then maybe you'd have a point. Until then, act like you're a grownup.
posted by NortonDC at 10:37 AM on October 28, 2003


All the planes i have been on still have reclining seats in front of bulkheads, although they do not always recline as far as the other seats. shepd, your insistence that you have paid for x cubit metres of air space falls down when you consider the variation in space available for different seats. According to your theory, you should have to pay more for emergency exit row seating, due to the larger space available. That would make the front exit row on Virgin Blue flights worth about three times the normal fair, given the 2 metres or so of leg-room this row offers.

Your suggestion that we be charged by weight is not completely removed from the current situation, given the width of commercial aircraft seats - there must be a theoretical maximum body weight that can fit into one seat and anyone over that weight would require two seats. As far as cargo being charged by weight, try sending an empty box a metre on a side by airfreight and see what you get charged - not for the weight of the box, but for the deemed weight based on its size.

I hope that, one day, I get to sit in front of you on a plane. Make sure you bring your credit card to pay for a new tray table assembly as, if you were to deliberately block my ability to recline the seat, I would simply place my feet firmly against the base of the seat in front, press the recline button and push as hard as it took to either pop your little piece of plastic out or rip the tray table off the back of the seat. Either way, by interfering with the operation of the aircraft, you will be held responsible.
posted by dg at 2:41 PM on October 28, 2003


I believe the person in front of you, whose chair you are pushing against with all your might to break the food tray, will most likely team up with the person behind you whose leg space you wish to confiscate, and calmly beat the shit out of you. I further imagine that anyone sitting next to you who sees you behaving in such a manner will jump into the fray and hold you down while they do so.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:56 PM on October 28, 2003


First of all, I would be pushing against the base of the seat so as not to disturb the person sitting in it. Second, I am sure that, were I to explain that the person behind me had inserted a device in my seatback to prevent me from reclining my seat, they would lend their weight to helping me overcome the incredible rudeness of the person concerned.

I just don't understand why people can't see that the space occupied by the reclined seatback does not "belong" to the person behind, it "belongs" to the person sitting in the seat concerned. If you are lucky enough to sit behind someone that does not recline their seat, it is a bonus, not a right. The space that you are allocated is not a perfect rectangle extending vertically from the back of the seat base in front of you, it is more of a parallelogram sloping back from the seat base along the line of the fully reclined seat. Once again, if you were not entitled to recline your seat, the seat would not have a reclining facility in the first place. Airlines are not in the habit of providing facilities to their passengers that they are not permitted to use. When they go through their pre-flight pep talk, they do not say "you must not recline your seat" in among all the other things you must not do, they say that your seat must be vertical during take-off and landing and during meal times. This means that you are free to recline your seat at other times. How is that so hard to understand?
posted by dg at 6:14 PM on October 28, 2003


This means that you are free to recline your seat at other times. How is that so hard to understand?

It's easy to understand, dg. Your argument seems to center around the fact that you can recline your seat. The counter argument that is being made is a separate one (at least, the one I'm making): just because you can, doesn't mean you should. How can you fail to grasp that by reclining your seat, you may be causing severe discomfort to the person behind you? Well, too bad for them, right? And that's precisely the kind of selfishness that pisses us off.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:36 AM on October 29, 2003


The fact that airlines are willing to put us in this situation to begin with should say something.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:43 AM on October 29, 2003


Civil_Disobedient, the question is "does my potential discomfort entitle me to deprive the person in front of me the the full capabilities of the seat they (and not I) paid for?"

Answering that "yes" is precisely the kind of selfishness that pisses us off. Your potential discomfort is reason for you to pay more, not reason for me to lose what I paid for.
posted by NortonDC at 1:34 PM on October 29, 2003


Sorry, Norton. Please weigh "my potential discomfort" versus "your extra comfort." If you had to recline your seat because the person in front of you did so, then the person behind you would clearly understand that you're in an uncomfortable situation and are trying to alleviate it.

But that's not the situation you're describing. What you're describing is when you're sitting comfortably in your seat and wish more comfort for yourself, at the cost of depriving the guy behind you of any comfort (unless he, too reclines). Yes, you paid for a seat that reclines, we understand that. A clear oversight by the airline industry who have apparently been using recycled seats from a time when airplanes had less seating in the cabin. But you're happy making someone else uncomfortable -- perhaps even threatening their health -- just for the sake of your extra, entitled comfort. That, Norton, is selfish.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:38 PM on October 29, 2003


Thank you for admitting that I am entitled to to recline my seat.

Now that we've settled that, why would you argue against the exercise of that entitlement when you have options available to you to protect your own comfort against the potential of having it reduced without affecting my comfort at all, namely by paying more for a seat with more room in the other section(s) of the plane?
posted by NortonDC at 2:47 PM on October 29, 2003


This is a bit of a derail, which I think this thread can handle:

In Thailand, they pack the busses like you wouldn't believe. They must hire Tetris masters for drivers. when they fill the seats to capacity, they bring out little stools for people to sit in aisles. Another, less expensive way to travel is standing in the bed of a Toyota minitruck with 14 other people. I used to see this all time time. In in Laos, they even put them on top.

In Japan, the subway system employs people with white gloves to facilitate the cramming of the maximum human mass into their cars at each stop during rush hour.

Don't even get me started about India.

My point is that it ultimately comes down to what the people of a particular culture will put up with. The norms of the middle and working classes vary widely on a global scale. Most non-westerners simply accept being crammed into small places with lots of other people for extended periods.

I gripe about uncomfortable airlines, too, but I recommend being grateful for the low level of discomfort about which we must gripe. Write letters of complaint, organize a protest or a boycott. Focus on the real problem. Don't let the airlines turn you against each other.
posted by squirrel at 3:35 PM on October 29, 2003


How can you fail to grasp that by reclining your seat, you may be causing severe discomfort to the person behind you? Well, too bad for them, right? And that's precisely the kind of selfishness that pisses us off.
So, I guess it is that it is too bad for the person who is too tall to be able to lean their head against the headrest without sliding down the seat somewhat and too tall to be able to do this without reclining the seat, whether or not the person in front has reclined his/her seat? That's precisely the kind of selfishness that pisses us off, because by preventing the person in front of you from reclining his/her seat, may be causing them severe discomfort. Perhaps it is the tall person's fault for allowing him/herself to grow so tall in the first place?

As far as threatening your health by reclining your seat, my understanding of the risks associated with DVT is that they are not affected by the reclining of the seat in front of you in any way. The risks are associated with sitting in a sedentary position for long periods, whether that is in a plane, at your desk or in front of the TV. The only way to truly minimise these risks is to get up and move around at regular intervals.
posted by dg at 4:13 PM on October 29, 2003


I have flown from Chile to Dallas in coach, about a 12 hour flight. I slept solely due to the seat reclining. Same thing with Frankfurt to Chicago.

When any of us buy a seat this entitles us to 1) occupy that seat 2) use any features of that seat the airline provides. Just because you do not wish to use the recline feature that in no way obligates the person in front of you to do the same. They have every right to expect to use that feature of the seat regardless of who is behind them.

So, you don't fit into coach, and want other people to not sleep because you are too cheap to upgrade to business class? People like me won't stay up 12 hours and ruin our trip to save you money, nor should we be expected to.

A tip, I always had a problem with legroom until I discovered that putting all my carry ons in the overhead or checking them gave me a HUGE space under the seat in front of me to put my feet. Try it, it might get you to chill out and stop depriving others of their due.

in a nutshell: the rules in coach allow seat reclining. Don't like it? Stop flying, pay for a better seat, or convince the airlines to change their policies.
posted by jester69 at 5:32 PM on October 29, 2003


It's now banned by Northwest...
posted by NortonDC at 5:48 AM on November 14, 2003


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