It’s true, I’m giving away a Knee Defender every hour – here’s why

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Christopher Elliott

We’re heading into the final stretch of our October fundraiser, and it’s time to take this up a notch. Today, starting at 8 a.m., I’m giving away one Knee Defender every hour to a random underwriter.

Some of you may think this is a controversial premium, but it’s not.

The Knee Defender was in the news this summer for being at the center of a mid-air altercation. I know the Knee Defender’s inventor, Ira Goldman, and have had many conversations with him about the device and how it’s meant to be used.

The Knee Defender was developed to limit how far an airline seat can recline. Airlines already do this when they adjust the seat. For example, Spirit Air locks the seats in place. But others don’t do it enough, leading to these unfortunate incursions.

If you’re a responsible air traveler, you shouldn’t be offended by my Knee Defender premium. You would never arbitrarily lock someone else’s airline seat in the full upright position. You’d use the Knee Defender to carve out a compromising amount of legroom, and only after offering the passenger in front of you the Knee Defender courtesy card and receiving permission to protect your laptop, your knees or the child on your lap.

If you’re the passenger in front of the person with a Knee Defender, you shouldn’t be ticked off, either. After all, you would never arbitrarily recline your seat without first asking the passenger behind you if it’s OK. Right?

If, however, you’re one of those passengers who feels entitled to all the space behind you and who slams the seat all the way back as soon as you reach cruising altitude, maybe you should be offended.

Maybe I don’t care if you’re offended.

Someone like you almost destroyed my laptop on a recent flight. If I’d been traveling with my baby, you would have injured her. You, my friend, shouldn’t be allowed on planes — and you’re the reason I admire Spirit’s policy of locking its seats in place. (There, I said something nice about Spirit … are you happy, Ben?)

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I see the Knee Defender as a necessary deterrent. Airlines are removing legroom and trying to sell it back to us. They’re making the ludicrous assertion that we “asked” them to do it by buying cheap fares.

But they are really fomenting a revolution at 36,000 feet by removing much-needed personal space. The presence of a Knee Defender can change that dynamic and restore a little order to the flying experience.

If you’re a responsible air traveler, you’ll want to get your own Knee Defender today. It’s for a good cause. All the money raised will be used for consumer advocacy and to push for policies that ensure you’ll have a humane amount of personal space when you fly.

Remember, I’m giving away one every hour to a random underwriter.

If you’re not a responsible air traveler, and you don’t care about the passenger behind you, maybe you should start. The Knee Defender isn’t for you. It’s for the person behind you, who has to deal with your selfishness.

Update: Congratulations to these winners of the Knee Defender.

8 a.m. Katherine Stengel

9 a.m. Michael McGuire

10 a.m. Richard Laermer

11 a.m. Joseph Eisenberg

12 p.m. Daniel Wolter

1 p.m. Allen Short

2 p.m. Kathryn Skinner

3 p.m. Bethany Tully

4 p.m. Nathaniel Winkler

Thank you for your support today. I love you all. Even the haters.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.

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