Bring Your Own Arm Rest Divider to End ‘Elbow Wars’

I receive compensation for content and many links on this blog. Citibank is an advertising partner of this site, as is American Express, Chase, Barclays and Capital One. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same). Terms apply to the offers and benefits listed on this page.

Since coach travel is generally awful there are several entrepreneurs who come up with things they can sell you to make yourself more comfortable, simple solutions to real world problems.

Some passengers buy extra pillows. I even brought an extra pillow flying American Airlines business class Paris – Dallas last year. This was before American introduced new Casper sleep amenities. I felt like a teenage girl bringing my own pillow but I was more comfortable inflight.

The knee defender is meant to keep someone from reclining their seat into you. Of course that’s just a recipe for conflict — and even flight diversions after you get into a fight with the person in front of you that you’ve prevented from reclining. And many airlines ban the device.

Want extra tray space in coach? Bring along a tray that you can attach to the window.

In the same spirit there’s the portable arm rest divider. (HT: @katechisholm) It’s “a folding device that doubles the area of an armrest, clipping onto a seat .. to give users on either side their own space.”

The goal is to ‘end elbow wars’ but I think you need your seat opponent’s permission before using it. It’s no big deal if you’re traveling with a companion, but you don’t usually have conflict to solve with a companion (and many armrests are movable and you can just put it up traveling with someone you know). So my guess is this isn’t a solution to the problem, but you can check it out on Amazon where it sells for $29.50 with Prime shipping and free returns.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. That device, even dumber than the knee defender, is just so in your face ridiculous. If that image is accurate, the armrest divider juts into the personal space of your neighbor and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize no stranger is going to tolerate that nonsense sitting in a 17 inch coach seat.

  2. Yeah there’s no way I’d put my arm on someone else’s weird device when I have no idea where it has been and what strange bodily fluids may be on it.

  3. Yeah – nobody better try to use that thing next to me. Just infringes upon my space.

    And coach travel is not “generally awful.” Rather: it is generally tolerable.

  4. If the divider were simply a divider, a verticle privacy piece between the seats, it would be a heckuvz lot better.

  5. It might be more comfortable if there weren’t two humongous bolts poking out of it.

  6. I am shocked to hear that the middle seat is allowed both armrests…where is the theater decorum here? Any proper theater goer understands how to share an armrest.

  7. @Raj, I generally agree that the middle seat gets deference on the armrests, but… I’ve been next to some middle-seaters who spread their elbows well across the entire armrest and into what is clearly my seat space. When they do that, I am forced to fight for every inch of space I can get. The same person who does it is also frequently “manspreading”1 well into the space for my knees and feet.

    1 I hate to use that term because it’s a dumb term, but it conveys the type of body positioning that I’m describing.

  8. I know the inventor of the elbow arm rest device personally. I have had it since before it was commercially available and I swear by it and highly recommend it. In the first instance, however, I try to ensure that no one is sitting next to me before boarding the plane.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *