A United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver had to land in Chicago Sunday because two passengers were acting like entitled dicks and air travel is fucking awful. At the center of the fight: A device called the Knee Defender, which prevents the seat directly in front of you from reclining.
The fight reportedly broke out after a man, 48, set up the Knee Defender so he could use his laptop, law enforcement officials told Denver's 9news. He refused to remove the device after being asked to do so by a flight attendant, so the woman seated in front of him, also 48, splashed him with a cup of water.
This confluence of dickheaded behavior caused the plane to land at Chicago O'Hare, where it dropped the two passengers off and continued to Denver without them.
Ironically, both passengers had been seated in the Economy Plus section, reserved for people willing to pay extra for four more inches of leg room.
So, who's at fault? Well, reclining your seat is a known dick move, causing a chain reaction of reclination that ruins the flight for everyone seated behind you. That's why "never recline" is one of the three basic rules of air travel.
You'd think that would make the guy with the Knee Defender a hero, but using the device presupposes a few things: That your fellow flyers will behave badly, that you're too timid to ask them not to recline, and that you can't tolerate mild discomfort if they insist on being rude. A person who avoids picking fights is not in the Knee Defender's target demographic.
The real answer, though, is that the airlines are the biggest dicks here. Many of them insist on making reclining possible, even though they've condensed each passenger's personal space to the point where it's a terrible idea. United has banned products like the Knee Defender, but those products wouldn't exist if reclining seats couldn't crush your knees in the first place.