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United Airlines flight diverted after passengers fight over 'Knee Defender'

United Airlines flight diverted after passengers fight over 'Knee Defender'

By Joyce Lupiani. CREATED Aug 26, 2014

Airline travel stopped being comfortable and fun for most people a long time ago. Smaller seats, less legroom, no more free peanuts, high ticket prices, crazy baggage fees, and the inability to recline one's seat more than an inch or two if at all has taken all the joy out of flying.

One man decided to fight back. He purchased a device known as the Knee Defender. The gadget, which costs $21.95, attaches to a passenger's tray table and prevents the person in front of them from reclining.

That didn't sit very well with the woman seated in front of the passenger with the Knee Defender and it got ugly.

According to the Associated Press, the incident happened on Sunday on a United Airlines flight between Newark, New Jersey, and Denver..

The man, who was seated in row 12, used the Knee Defender so that he could work on his laptop. A flight attendant asked him to remove it and he said no. That is when the woman in front of him stood up and threw a cup of water in his face. It was at that point that the pilot decided to divert the plane to Chicago and toss both passengers off the flight.

The man and woman, both 48, were met by Chicago police and TSA officers. Ultimately, it was deemed to be a "customer service issue" and neither person was arrested. However, they were not allowed back on the airplane.

Although the Knee Defender is not banned by the Federal Aviation Administration, United Airlines does not allow it on their planes. Other airlines, like Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air, have taken the reclining mechanisms out of their passenger seats.

A hint of irony: The passengers were seated in United's Economy Plus section, which has four more inches of legroom than the rest of coach.

Joyce Lupiani

Joyce Lupiani

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Joyce Lupiani, who is based in Las Vegas at KTNV-TV Channel 13, is a contributor to