Skift Take

Seats can't really make people nicer, but they can help make flying more pleasant.

It’s fair to say that the cabin space wars just got ugly.

Sales of the world’s most passive-aggressive travel accessory have skyrocketed, after a reclining incident between two passengers on a United Airlines flight led to a nasty exchange of words and liquids.

As the world asks whether ’tis nobler to recline or not to recline, we took a peek at some of the user-friendly aircraft seat developments that are most likely to calm rising tensions.

There are many excellent innovative seats in the market, all of which could bring peace to the skies and potential solutions to this dilemma; but here’s a countdown our top three Knee-Defender-proof favourites. We picked these because they are kind to passenger’s knees, backs, and bums; while managing to be friendly to airlines’ bottom lines.

At number three, we present the PF2000 from Pitch Aircraft Seating, UK. It’s sturdy, inspired by automotive design, comfortable, light-weight and comes with a fixed recline built-in. The manufacturer claims the unique slant of the seat gives passengers 2.5-inches more legroom than traditional economy seating. It’s price competitive for airlines, and it accommodates embedded Inflight Entertainment to keep edgy passengers distracted.

The new Titanium seat by Expliseat, France, is a strong second. It is the brain-child of innovative French engineering trio: Jean-Charles Samuelain, Benjamin Saada, Vincent Tejedor. Not only does it hold the record for the lightest seat in the market at four kilograms, but it’s ergonomically designed to conform to the body’s contours. This seat is also pre-reclined and it was designed to absorb any impact from the seat behind you. (In case someone gets kicky.)

Titanium Expliseat, via Expliseat

Titanium Expliseat, via Expliseat


At the number one position, is Recaro’s PL3510. Since “the incident” took place in the Premium Economy section of the cabin, we thought we should include an appropriate premium seat for the top position. Designed by the seating experts at Recaro, Germany, who make seats for a wide variety of transport applications and luxury cars, the PL3510 has many advantages.

It’s nice and wide at 19.5 inches, has adjustable headrests, foot rests, and can even be outfitted with a reading lamp. The manufacturer describes the PL3510 as having the feel of a business class seat in the economy cabin. This seat reclines up to nine inches, but the tray table is tucked away in armrest, so there’s nowhere to put those controversial clamps.

Recaro PL3510, Backview, via Recaro

Recaro PL3510, Backview, via Recaro

Anyone who has already purchased a new Knee-Defender set (with its accompanying “courtesy card”) should note that most airlines in North America (U.S. and Canada) have said they won’t permit the use of these snaps onboard. Qantas and Virgin Australia, have also announced they would ban these gadgets.


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Tags: amenities, in-flight, united airlines

Photo credit: Recaro Premium Economy, PL3510 Seat, Recaro Recaro

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