Last week, a United Airlines flight was diverted back and two passengers were removed after one of them used a locking device to stop the seat in front of them from reclining. Glasses of water were thrown and the dispute escalated into such a fully-blown verbal fight that the pilot was forced to divert to Chicago's O'Hare airport to have the two passengers removed from the plane before continuing to the original destination of Denver.
The event seems to have caused some controversy, stirring up mixed feelings from regular airline passengers who seem to have bottled-up this widespread issue until now.
Admittedly, someone in front of you reclining is annoying, and in some cases infuriating, especially when there is a lack of leg space, you're trying to work on a laptop or watch a film on a tablet and you have to utilise those contortionist skills you learnt a few summer's ago in order to get out of your seat and get to the toilet.
Now, passengers on board Qantas and Virgin flights have been banned from using Knee Defenders - the controversial gadget which stops the seat in front of you from reclining. The airlines have also been quoted as saying that the gadget breaches the same rules that stop people taking drugs and smoking on planes.
There has been a surge in global sales - presumably down to the people who get mightily irked when someone in front of them invades their space by reclining - and airlines have taken the opportunity to prevent any more escalated incidents happening on-board their planes.
The U-shaped device, which fits over the arms of the seat-back tray table, allows passengers to enforce their own personal space, but restricts the person in front from comfortably reclining, had such a surge in online sales last week that the website actually crashed, said inventor Ira Goldman.
Virgin Australia were quoted as saying, "œThe use of knee defenders or a similar device would be in breach of our conditions of carriage. The safety and comfort of our guests remains our highest priority."
The Virgin Airlines conditions of carriage include: 'You must not behave in a manner which would be considered by a reasonable person to be offensive, or in a manner which might cause discomfort, distress, offence or injury to another person.'
They also explain that you, as the flight passenger, are not allowed to 'tamper, interfere with or damage any part of the aircraft' or 'do anything which may endanger the safety of the aircraft on which you are traveller, or the safety of our flight crew or your fellow passengers.'
From an airline policy perspective, the Knee Defenders are now seen as an attachment or aircraft modification and as such, have been banned.
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