Alleged unruly airline passenger explains ‘Knee Defender’ fiasco

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW YORK (AP) — The businessman whose dispute with a fellow airline passenger over a reclined seat sparked a national debate about air-travel etiquette says he’s embarrassed by the way the confrontation unfolded.

But don’t expect James Beach to stop using the Knee Defender, a $22 gadget that attaches to a passenger’s tray table and prevents the person in front from reclining. He just plans to be nicer about it.

The 48-year-old from the Denver area reached out to The Associated Press on Wednesday to clarify a few points about the episode, primarily that he initially complied with flight attendant instructions to remove the device.

The Aug. 24 argument became so tense that the pilots diverted the United Airlines flight to Chicago.

Beach, who is 6 feet 1 inch tall, says he never reclines.

The in-flight argument was the first of at least three such incidents to happen in the last week.

A Delta Airlines flight from New York City to West Palm Beach was diverted Monday because of a fight between passengers, allegedly over leg room — or lack there.

And last week, an American Airlines flight had to veer off course when an irate passenger caused a fight allegedly over knee space.