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Stephen Mihm

The Incredible Shrinking Airline Seat Has a Back Story

Passengers were already uncomfortable on trains in the 19th century.
Watch your back.
Watch your back.

Is it fine to recline? Last weekend, two passengers got into a fight aboard a Denver-bound flight over precisely this question. One sought to recline, but the occupant of the seat behind him frustrated his attempts with a plastic prophylactic called the Knee Defender.

The fight that broke out between the dueling passengers prompted an emergency landing in Chicago. The altercation has since gone global, thanks in part to a piece at The Upshot by Bloomberg View alum Josh Barro, who vigorously defended his right to recline.