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Knee Defender Keeps Passengers Upright, Uptight

Ann Clogherty of Vienna purchased her Knee Defender over the weekend and plans to use it as much as she can before the airlines crack down. Clogherty said the airlines have crammed too many seats into their planes, stealing legroom from passengers. "The personal space of a passenger ends where my legs begin," said the six-foot-tall Clogherty.

Computer programmer Rawligh Sybrant bought a Knee Defender so he could keep his legs stretched out to avoid blood clotting. The Olney resident said he won't buy tickets on airlines that prohibit him from using the device.

Some travelers have figured out ways to prevent reclining without the clip. Goldman said he knows of passengers who ball up blankets and wedge them between the seat and tray table, producing the same effect as his device.

Goldman, who served as Capitol Hill counsel for then California Sen. Pete Wilson and as a former Republican counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, drew up the prototype in the basement of his Mt. Pleasant row house. He has outsourced the manufacturing and spends about 16 hours a day running his business.

"I'm making money, but I think this is addressing a specific need," Goldman said.

Indeed, the right to recline has been a touchy issue ever since an airline seat first popped backward -- and the war shows little sign of abating. Flying recently to Tahiti on Air France, Andrea T. Williams of New Hope, Pa., put her seat back only to have her hair pulled by the passenger behind her. Every time she reclined, Williams said, she was attacked. Her assailant hit her in the head and threw soda on her. "It was a nightmare," she said.

Williams stands by her right to recline, saying she would never buy Goldman's gadget. "I think it's unfair to expect a passenger to sit upright in a very uncomfortable seat when he or she paid for the ticket to travel," she said.

Flying Into California: Airlines continue to report delayed and canceled flights due to the California wildfires. Several airlines, including United and Southwest, are waiving their $100 rebooking fees into those areas. United canceled 56 flights Sunday and 66 flights Monday into airports in Los Angeles, Burbank, Ontario, San Diego and Orange County, and expects more cancellations today. United passengers who were ticketed on flights between Oct. 26 and Nov. 3 may rebook on flights through Nov. 15 without a fee (call the airline for details). Southwest Airlines urged travelers to call to find out the status of their flights if they're flying into Los Angeles, Burbank, Ontario, San Diego or Orange County/John Wayne airports.

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