Skip to main content

Legroom fight diverts flight

By Marnie Hunter and Mike Ahlers, CNN
updated 10:41 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An argument over legroom resulted in a flight diversion
  • A passenger's use of a Knee Defender did not sit well with another flier
  • The two were removed from the plane before it continued to its destination

(CNN) -- Do airline passengers have the right to recline?

That simmering debate among fliers escalated Sunday aboard a United Airlines flight that was diverted after two passengers argued over the use of a device that blocks reclining.

A Knee Defender, a gadget that "helps you stop reclining seats on airplanes so your knees won't have to," was at the root of the disturbance.

United Flight 1462 from Newark to Denver was forced to divert to Chicago's O'Hare airport, according to United Airlines. The airline said that it does not allow the use of the recline-blocking device on its aircraft.

Should the Knee Defender be banned?

A federal law enforcement source, speaking on background, said the incident involved a male and a female passenger, both 48 years old.

The female passenger was unable to recline her seat and flagged a flight attendant.

The flight attendant told the man seated behind her to remove the Knee Defender device, but he declined. The female passenger then threw water in his face. The pilot decided to divert the flight to Chicago, where authorities met the aircraft.

The two passengers were removed from the plane before it continued on to Denver, United said. The passengers were not arrested.

The argument occurred in the Economy Plus section, which provides United passengers up to 5 inches of extra legroom compared with standard coach seats.

Inside the inflight movie industry

Window flier or aisle seater?

Airline seat squeeze: It's not you, 'it's the seat'

CNN's Rene Marsh contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Good news for air travelers passing through Manila: the city's international airport isn't quite as bad as it used to be.
updated 10:07 AM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, aka the MRJ, is Japan's first new commercial jet in over 50 years
updated 12:20 PM EDT, Thu October 9, 2014
Air racing is just as fast as NASCAR, IndyCars and Formula One. But the added vertical dimension seriously amps the action up.
updated 9:01 AM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Thomson Airways' face-to-face seating plans could help parents or deprive them of movie-watching marathons.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Tue October 7, 2014
When it comes to air travel, courtesy and common sense are often the first two things to fly out the departure gates.
updated 4:39 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Around a dozen of the iconic B-17 bombers are still able to fly. But how comfortable is a flight in the 70-year-old plane?
updated 7:17 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
This aging cargo work whale makes more than 60 flights each week, carrying parts for all of the Airbus programs.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
From a three-room apartment to a Michelin-starred meal, many airlines are offering services you won't even get in some top hotels.
updated 10:46 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Details from an Airbus patent illustrating a virtual reality headset for air passengers.
Airbus patent proposes using special headsets to control in-flight sights, sounds and smells.
updated 3:01 AM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
Bear on the tail and heart on the underside -- it's been a big week for makeovers in the world of aviation.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT