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Knee Defender inventor defends after airline kerfuffle

Thursday - 8/28/2014, 4:49am  ET

WASHINGTON -- A $22 device caused quite the kerfuffle on a United Airlines flight earlier this week and its inventor is defending it.

The fight began when a passenger used a Knee Defender which, when attached to the airline's tray table, prevents the person in front from reclining.

But inventor Ira Goldman, a D.C. resident, says the product helps fliers have the right to protect themselves, a child that may be on their lap or their computer.

"My knees are already up against the seat in front of me, and I'd like to keep my knees and I don't want to be hit. And that's where the Knee Defender comes in."

The actual problem, according to Goldman, are the airlines themselves. The room they provide isn't enough and even if the person in front wanted to recline, he typically can't because there isn't room. The ticket sold to one person allows them space that a reclining person then attempts to occupy.

"Normal physics says their seatback can't be there and that's the problem that airlines don't want to accept or own up to," says Goldman.

His invention hasn't garnered a personal response from any airline and the inventor insists that's because airlines don't want to confront the reality that passengers aren't given enough space. Despite his defense, Goldman insists it's important for riders to obey the flight attendant if asked not to use the device.

"Any Knee Defender ever sold says right on it, 'Listen to the flight crew.'"

Goldman says a few hundred visitors might arrive at his web site on a normal day. Tuesday -- following the worldwide attention -- about 185,000 people visited his page.

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