August 28, 2014


As I have mentioned before on various incarnations of my blog, I’m 6-foot-2 and all leg, so I’m very sympathetic to folks who complain about legroom. However, like many tall people, I also have a bad back, so I’m very sympathetic to folks who want to recline their seats. Heck, I’m even sympathetic to the airlines that are cramming people into planes with the wild abandon of college freshmen filling their trunks for summer break.

But it’s hard to sympathize with anyone in this story: United Airlines diverted a flight after a passenger used a “knee defender,” apparently in violation of United’s clear policy, and refused to remove it when the flight attendant told him to … and the traveler who was thus prevented from reclining threw a cup of water at him. . . .

Air travel is marvelously cheap and convenient these days, but part of making it so cheap and convenient is cramming lots of people into a very small aluminum tube with as little fuss as possible. This calls for greater self-restraint and politeness, not the unleashing of all the pent-up rage lurking in the reptilian recesses of our brains. Everyone in this story should be ashamed of themselves, except the hapless fellow passengers who were subjected to this collective tantrum. Unfortunately, if experience is any guide, the offending parties probably feel more self-righteous and justified than ever.