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Seat Rights and Fights

Imagine a television advertisement that announces that you can now buy more room for your next airplane ticket purchase. The airline is selling tickets called “reclining seat” tickets. Or, another TV ad that says that you can now get $20 discount off your next flight by purchasing a “no-recline seat” ticket.

From San Francisco’s ABC-7 comes the following weekend news report:

A Southwest Airlines flight landed at San Francisco International Airport five hours late after an incident on board forced the pilot to return to the gate at LAX.

Southwest flight 2010 returned to LAX after the pilot declared an emergency. The plane was only in the air for 13 minutes. Law enforcement met the plane at the gate and took one person from the flight. The other passengers and crew switched planes and took off for SFO about two hours later, landing at 1:43 a.m. A passenger says she witnessed a man harassing a woman about a reclining chair.

As airlines attempt to squeeze more passengers and make us feel more like cattle, it’s no surprise that people are on edge on the plane. Then, you finally get to your seat and the person in front of you reclines… and your legs are now jammed against the seat.

Right now, airlines are siding with the reclining passengers. The “jammed knees” passenger has no right or expectation of their seating space but, there’s a solution. It’s a device called the Knee Defender.

The “Knee Defender,”  described. as a $21.95 product designed to guard your leg room. You can attach them to your seat and they work to keep the seat from reclining in front of you. They are legal. They still might cause you a bit of a confrontation when the person in front of you attempts to recline.

     According to the Washington Post in an article that came out when this product first hit the market, FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto says “the clips were not against federal aviation rules as long as they weren’t used during taxiing, takeoffs or landings.”

Knee Defenders are specifically designed to be applied and clamped to the seat while your tray table  is lowered,  except that the tray table must be up and locked “during taxiing, takeoffs or landings.” As long as Knee Defenders are being used for the sole purpose that they were designed to be used in flight, their use does not violate any US aviation law, rule, or regulation.

The solution? I think that either airlines should create a charging system for reclining; or a priority seating assignment method incorporating reeling choice, like restaurants with non-smoking sections… or allow passengers to arm wrestle for the right to recline. Or something like that!

And for pic o’ day, a better way to ride…



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