U.S. airlines prohibit use of the Knee Defender, but the devices are not illegal.
'I put them in maybe a third of the time. Usually, the person in front tries (to recline) their seat a couple of times, and then they forget about it,' Beach said. The device comes with a courtesy card to tell passengers that you've blocked them, but he doesn't use it.
'I'd rather just kind of let them think the seat is broken, rather than start a confrontation,' he said.
Chiming in with his own thoughts after the AP interview is the ever-logical Seth Miller aka Wandering Aramean, who underscored the one point in the story everyone seems to be glossing over:
The incident happened in United’s Economy Plus section. He had 35 inches of pitch at his disposal (plenty of first class seats are only 36-37″) and still somehow decided that wasn’t enough. And that 35″ spacing is MORE than airlines had in coach 10+ years ago, back in the “good old days” where there were fewer passengers on board. There is simply no excuse, other than that the guy is a schmuck.
Now for our two cents. Mr. Beach claims to fly 75,000 - 100,000 miles ever year, mostly on business (but not in Business Class, note). We personally fly an average of 175,000 miles a year, and have already passed the 100k mark for 2014, all the while typing on our laptop no matter the class of travel. Working on planes is a necessity of our work, and we have never once considered using Knee Defenders, and wouldn't still. Thus, we can't see his side of the argument whatsoever. Furthermore, we'd probably be as nasty about reclining our seat if the person behind had been nastily using a contraption to prevent it.
It's quite a sad state of affairs that now, in addition to the eternal arguments of "window vs aisle" and "to recline or not to recline," flyers are forming their stance on whether or not to deny the personal space and recline rights of those around them.