Maybe Mitt Romney should have tried a 'knee defender'

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won't press charges against a fellow passenger who took a swing at him Monday night.

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    Mitt Romney has decided not to file charges against a fellow passenger who took a swing at him Monday night. To avoid future mishaps, perhaps Romney should try the "knee defender." The banned gadget stops passengers from reclining.
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Well, you've probably heard by now that Mitt Romney has decided not to press charges against the alleged goon who assaulted him on an airplane earlier this week.

Romney asked the passenger in front of him to to raise his seat back before take-off. The request infuriated the passenger, who took a swing at the former Republican presidential candidate.

If you missed the story, we told you about it here.

Recommended: Politics, Elections, Decoder

I'm a lover, not a fighter

Makes sense for Romney. Even if the passenger was completely in the wrong (and that's what it appears), Romney would stand to gain little by pressing the issue.

He's got a new book out. He's a featured speaker at the big Republican hoedown (C-PAC) tomorrow and, according to Gallup, he's the top pick by Republicans so far for the 2012 presidency.

He's smart to drop it. He knows the media would give far more attention to this case than would ever pay attention to his book (unless Sarah Palin co-wrote it).

So, he's letting it go.

To recline or not to recline?

While we totally get why an airline passenger shouldn't have reclined during take-off (after all, FAA regulations prohibit it), it also brings up a bigger question: should passengers recline at all?

Just like politics, you'll get two very different points of view. And it gets heated.

We asked one of our favorite airline bloggers what he thought. Brett Snyder is the owner of CrankyFlier.com.

He says to recline or not to recline is the "million dollar question."

"Some airlines have started to use economy seats that recline into themselves so they take away your own legroom instead of that of the person behind you," he told us in an email. "That solves the problem . . . unless you're tall. Then you just run out of room."

"That's why I'm glad I'm only 5' 8"," he adds.

Good for him, but what about those of us over 6' 0"?

The knee defender

Snyder then introduced us to a device that would prohibit a passenger from reclining.

It's called the "knee-defender." It's just a small clamp that you attach to the seat in front of you and keeps it from laying back. (see video below).

To us, it sounds wonderful. To others, not so much.

"I remember when a friend first told me about this miserable device several years ago," writes Conde' Nast blogger Stefan Wilkinson. "She'd just come back from a long coach trip, during which the passenger in front of her uncomfortably reclined his seat into what she considered to be her space, and she planned to buy a Knee Defender. I told her that if anybody ever jammed my recliner with one, I'd simply get up, pull it off my seat back (it is my seat, after all), where it fits onto a tray-table arm in a way that blocks movement of the reclining mechanism, and pocket the thing. Let the user try to get it back."

That sounds like a recipe for an in-flight brawl.

Snyder says airlines have banned it, but "it hasn't stopped everyone [from using it]."

Another option

How to solve the reclining issue? Snyder recommends a novel approach: be polite.

"I think much of this could be solved with basic common courtesy," he writes. "If it's meal time (when they have meal time), keep your seat up. If you do recline, just go back a little until you're comfortable."

One more important tip from the CrankyFlier: "And if a former presidential candidate asks you to stop reclining, you should probably not throw a punch."

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