Knee Defender: D.C. inventor defends $22 controversial in-flight device blamed for air rage

Knee defender gadget. (Photo: ABC News)

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – D.C.-area resident Ira Goldman has been in defense mode the past couple of days.

He’s defending his knees.

He’s defending his Knee Defender.

He’s defending his invention.

And all because of what happened on a United Airlines flight last Sunday.

Passenger in front can’t get her seat to recline because the passenger seated behind is using his Knee Defender, a $22 contraption that clips onto a tray table and prevents reclining by the person in front.

Woman gets mad. Flight attendants asks man to remove it. He doesn’t. Woman throws glass of water in his face. Plane makes an unscheduled landing because of the fracas.

Media madness ensues.

Goldman’s initial reaction?

“My first reaction was, after 11 years, one idiot bought the product and didn’t follow the instructions,” he said Wednesday during a phone interview on News Channel 8’s NewsTalk. “Every Knee Defender ever sold has said (to) listen to the flight crew.

“The website says that, the instructions say that, and listen -- that was the problem.”

So why’d you invent the Knee Defender?

“At 6-foot-3, I’m certainly taller than average but not exceptionally so (but) when I sit down in a seat. . .in the plane, my knees are already touching the front of the seat in front of me.”


“So (even) without a knee defender, the person in front of me is not going to be able to recline because my legs are there.”

And ?

“If I use the knee defender, I can see them trying to push back and I can say, ‘Excuse me but my legs are so long there’s no room back here,’ versus that person banging me in the knees and THEN saying, ‘By the way, there’s no room back here.’ ’’

But isn’t that unfair to the person seated in front of you?

“If you have a baby in a car seat on a plane, which is now legal under the FAA, the baby car seat will stop the seat from reclining. My knees will stop the seat from reclining, so are my knees illegal because they interfere with the reclining?”

But aren’t you preventing the person in front from, say, taking a better nap?

“The concept that you have a right to recline defies physics, because people’s legs are back there. It’s (a matter) of common courtesy.”

And if the airlines crack down completely on the Knee Defender?

“I think people have a right to defend themselves from being hit, and if the airlines want to step in, they can get their lawyers prepared to deal with the consequences.”

The defense rests.