Knee Defender

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Here’s a handy gadget to have around if you’re constantly getting your knees smashed by the seat in front of you on an airline- the aptly named “Knee Defender” from Gadget Duck. What is it? What you get for your hard earned $14.95 money are two small clamp/wedge looking pieces of plastic that are very easy to throw in a carry on bag or jacket pocket. They’re solid, well made blocks of plastic designed to fit between the bar of your seat tray and the back of the seat in front of you. There’s no moveable parts or buttons or anything complicated. You just lower your tray table, slide the Knee Defender down the bar until it rests against the seat back. Viola! You can also rest it halfway up or where you feel your knees will not be encroached upon. The Knee Defender will rest on the bar.

Did it work? Yes! The seat wouldn’t recline. Not much more to say there so lets move on to the things you might not have thought about before you placed your order. First, you must realize that this only works with your tray table down! I guess if you prefer to fly this way, that won’t be an issue, until you have to get up or someone needs to get passed you. This also means you have to be Johnny on the spot with it as soon as the Captain gives the “all clear” once takeoff is over. I know one of the first things I go for as soon as I hear the “ding” is that recline button, so if you’re sitting behind me with Knee Defenders, you better be quick to deploy them.

Of course, there are social implications. This product has designed for folks with long legs or are otherwise encumbered by the seat in front of them. I should disclose that I’m neither. Therefore, I politely informed the person in front of me what I was doing and asked them to help me test it out. They graciously agreed… as long as it was only for a minute or two.

Another thought I had that I didn’t see on the Gadget Duck website was regarding in-flight entertainment. I flew on an Airbus 330 that had the LCD screens in the back of the headrests. I’ve found that whenever the person in front of me reclines their seat, I couldn’t see the screen clearly anymore. I’m only 5’6″ and even with the screen tilted/angled as high as it can go it’s just barely visible to me (the way some LCDs get when you look at them other than straight on). If you could stop the seat an inch or two up with the Knee Defender, you might be able to see the screen without having to crane your neck, the person in front of you might not even notice.

The Knee Defender FAQ is littered with warnings about when you should and shouldn’t use it. Of course, common sense applies. If you need to protect your knees and feel comfortable with having the tray down and potential “social” problems that might arise, then give the Knee Defender a try. I would think though if you’re going through the trouble to ask the person if it’s alright to use the knee defender, you might as well just have them stop at a certain, mutually agreeable position.


Product Information

Manufacturer:Gadget Duck
Retailer:Gadget Duck
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to pack
  • Could annoy the passenger in front of you

About The Author

19 thoughts on “Knee Defender”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Use at your own risk… Most flight attendants will likely ask you to remove them if seen, or told that you are using them.

  3. Many, if not most, airlines ban these. There have also been reports of a few physical altercations overthe use of these.

  4. Moronic. if you have a problem, TALK to the person in front. This is the most antisocial thing I’ve seen for ages – if someone behind me was using one, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull it out and snap it in half. If they ASKED me, I’d be quite happy to keep my seat forwards.

  5. doug-jensen wrote:

    …There have also been reports of a few physical altercations overthe use of these.

    Let me be upfront and say that Knee Defender™ is my product. There have been lots and lots of on-line discussions, some heated, about it since it came on the market 3+ years ago. Of course, there were lots and lots of discussions, some heated, about seat reclining before Knee Defender, and they go on apart from the product’s existence. I’ve generally kept out of them, even on occasion when someone has posted something what I think is patently absurd. Of course, that is my opinion of that person’s opinion. Here is a different case, I think.

    I’ve never seen any such “reports”. I’ve read news reports of people being arrested for a fight that started after someone was hit in the head by a reclining seat, and there was at least one arrest after two guys had a fist fight over who had the right to an armrest (and BTW I don’t recall the armrest being blamed). But, I’ve not seen a report about my product and some physical altercation. And, none of my customers has ever contacted me to say that anything like that happened. It’s tough to actually prove a negative, but I think that there would have been something definitive come my way if there had been a real problem. Even if something had happened, it’s fascinating that someone might try to justify a guy throwing a punch because his seat wouldn’t recline. It would be like trying to justify a guy throwing a punch because the guy in front had smacked him in the head or the knees or had broken his computer screen by reclining. In any event, if anyone has actual names, dates, places, I’d like to know.

    I realize that some people don’t like the product. Actually, even the people who buy it didn’t want to – but they had given up on the alternatives, such as polite requests, because they didn’t work. And as Eddie Lopez kindly pointed out in his review here, “The Knee Defender FAQ is littered with warnings about when you should and shouldn’t use it.” ’cause, as with cell phones, cologne, and nuclear weapons, for some things there is a right way and a wrong way to use them.

  6. This is a product only a jerkwad would use. Not someone concerned for their laptop screen, but someone who wants to cheat and squeeze more room out of a coach seat than they’ve paid for. We’ve all seen these people, they’re the same ones who don’t understand what right-of-way on a freeway entrance means.

    There are bulkhead seats, exit rows and even first/business class. Those are the alternatives for the people phobic about someone reclining in front of them. If you’re too tall or too fat to fit in a regular coach seat, take it up with the airlines or choose a seat that’s appropriate before you board the plane. Do not force someone else to give up their space and comfort to increase your space and comfort.

    So if one greedy person uses this in row 25, do they expect everyone up to row 9 to not recline their seats? If not, them some poor shmuck is stuck with the person in front of them reclining and they are not being able to recline. The plight of that poor person would concern some people, but not the type of people who would use this product.

    If I was stuck on a 6 hr flight and some idiot behind me tried this, the overprice pieces of plastic would end up being flushed in the toilet.

  7. The most pain I have ever been in in my life was when I was stuck in an airline seat for 14 hours on which the recline was broken. May I suggest that the person who invented this try sitting bolt upright for the entire duration of a long haul flight? He may then realise that there are worse things in life than sore knees – and serious back pain is most definitely one of them. (And I’m speaking as one over 6′ tall who does find the lack of kneeroom in economy class irritating – but try taking all the stuff out of the seat pocket in front of you, which usually liberates another inch or so.) The first thing I do on any flight is to recline my seat to an angle at which it is not going to cause backache. A product designed to lock the seat in front of you upright isn’t just selfish – it is downright antisocial. Airline seats are designed to allow a minimum of legroom even with the seat in front reclined – as other posters have observed, there are other solutions if you find this uncomfortable.

    I hope that the airlines ban this appalling idea forthwith – the inventor should be uttterly ashamed of himself.

  8. If you are taller than 6 ft, some modern airline seats are impossible to fit your legs into when the seat in front of you is reclined.

    The bean counter that thought of this grand idea of squeezing one more row of seats into the plane should be stoned with these knee defenders..

    2 cents.

  9. “they’re solid, well made blocks of plastic …”

    Not to sound like a buzzkill, but it is really really easy to shatter them, and to be honest, I wouldn’t hesitate to break them if used on my seat to keep me from reclining.

  10. I’m 6’4″ and have been on flights before where there have been no seats available with the extra leg room and am sure that should I have been 5’10” would have been equally uncomfortable. My legs are long enough that when the person in front tries to put their seat back, they are unable, as my knees are already jammed up against the seat.

    The best solution is, when the person in front reclines their seat, simply ask them if they’d mind if they didn’t, explaining why. Most considerate people won’t oppose. If they do anyway, then to hell with them. It’s a lot like being at the football grounds, if one person stands up then they all have to, similarly with this, if one person puts their seat back, then they all have to.

  11. I think this is an awesome product. There is absolutely NO reason to recline the seat back. It is only an inch or two anyway and does not make any difference except to the person behind them that suddenly has someones head in their face or their laptop closed down abruptly.

    Ideally the airlines should not use reclining seats, decide on an angle and fix the seats in that angle, period, no fuss no muss, no hassle.

    I just wish they could figure out a way to lock the seat without having to put the tray down. the whole having to act quickly once the seat belt sign goes out is tricky. If you could attach them as soon as you sit down when ALL the seats are in the correct upright position, that would be the best solution.

    The inconsiderate people are the recliners. And most will go ballistic if they discover your using a block (as confirmed by the posts in this blog) .

    I paid for MY space, I want MY space. when someone reclines it invades MY space. I lose space the recliner is the one grabbing extra space.

    I have been known to jam paperbacks between the tray and seatback, effectively doing what this does, although not as easily and eloquently.


  12. i agree with dan, airlines should do without reclining seats,nearly every flight i have been on the ignorrant idiot in front reclines their seat,asking them DOSNT WORK all the time,their just selfish morons, so come on airlines get rid of recliners PLEEEAAAASE!!!!!

  13. So, because Dan is bad at measurement, we should ban all reclining?

    What an idiot.

    PEOPLE need comfort – it doesn’t matter on a 30 minute – 2 hour flight, but a 6, 8, 15 hour flight, it matters.

  14. My point is that the little amount the seats reclines does not have much impact on comfort. Unless the seat reclines like 45 degrees you are not gaining much.
    The airlines should research the optimal seat angle for comfort and make the seats permeanatly at that angle, then all the seats , mine included are at the same angle, no one loses their space because some jerk in front of them thinks a few degree’s makes a differencein their comfort. It does make a huge difference to the person in back of them, because now the they have the jerk in their face, unless they recline also, but what if I do not want to recline, because I am trying to use my table to eat or use my latptopthen you have a chain reaction of pissed off passangers. Make them all the same and there would be no hassle, no pisssed off people, no way to be a jerk, everyone is equal. Same space for every seat.

  15. I agree with Dan 100%. Ditch the reclining completely. I am a tall guy and fly long haul flights a lot… 15 hour flights on a regular basis. I only ever recline my seat if the person sitting behind me is short, and a lot of the times, even then I don’t bother. The tiny tiny increase in comfort I get from reclining my seat is nowhere near the agony and inconvenience I get if the person in front of me reclines their seat. Anyone who says that reclining their seat is so much more comfortable is just a selfish retard. Think about your fellow passengers for a second. The world doesn’t revolve around you.

  16. Carey Holzman, my friend in Facebook posted this quote of himself:

    This device should be illegal.

    “I think people have forgotten how to communicate with one another in-person. If I was on a long flight and I wanted to recline my seat and the person behind me asked if I wouldn’t recline it so far, I would adjust it to their liking. Or they could ask if I wouldn’t mind not reclining it while they work on their laptop, but then will let me know when they are done. Just cooperation and, who knows, you might start a conversation and a make a new friend by the end of the flight.”

    Its really great that CNN also mentioned “Louis CK” in their video in this link:
    Legroom fight diverts flight –

  17. I do not care if you paid for a seat. You did NOT pay for the right to intrude on the already limited space behind you. Reclining your seat into other people is just totally inconsiderate and in some cases can actually can be dangerous. I don’t do it and you don’t need to either. So kindly don’t.

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