Knee Defender

Written by Robert Mac
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Knee Defenders are plastic spacers that can save a lot of bumps and bruises on your knees while flying. It's a simple design--the kind that makes you slap your forehead and say, "Why didn't I think of that?"--that addresses a common problem. They help the tall guy (or tall woman) "stand up for his right to sit down" in airline seats.

How Do Knee Defenders Work?

Very easily: just place the two plastic blocks on the arms of your tray table and slide them down until they rest against the seat back in front of you. When the person sitting in that seat reclines, the Knee Defenders will take the blow of the seat instead of your vulnerable knees. And they are adjustable, so you can vary how much the seat reclines.

Essentially, they protect your knees from the sudden crush of the person in front of you, but they also protect anything that you might be using on your tray table, such as a laptop or CD player. It's more than just about knees: it's about saving a little bit of private space for yourself. And, yes, they are legal and FAA-approved, but if a flight attendant asks you to remove them, you must.

There are ways to let the person in front of you know that you are using Knee Defenders; they come with a courtesy card that politely informs them that you are using them to protect your knees and other personal belongings from a sudden change in configuration. Generally, people on airplanes will respond positively when informed ahead of time. Sometimes all it takes is a little communication to avert an unexpected hit to the knees.

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