Most people would rather get stuck in traffic, visit the dentist or go on a blind date than be stuck in the middle seat during a flight. They will go to great lengths to avoid the middle seat, from taking an aisle seat on the next available flight to staying overnight at a hotel at the airport in the hope of securing a window or aisle seat the next morning.
What gets us riled up about the middle seat?
– a nosy or overly chatty seatmate
– having to crawl over someone to get up to stretch our legs or to use the bathroom
– not being able to stretch out
– sitting next to someone who is overweight
– having nowhere to rest our head
So how can you dodge the middle seat?
The best way to survive the middle seat, is to try and avoid it altogether. Book early and select an aisle or window seat during the booking process.
Alternatively, you can try when checking in at the airport counter – just make sure you arrive early as your fellow passengers will be endeavouring to get the best seats as well. It is worth inquiring about the possibility of being allocated an exit row seat, but be warned, this may cost extra. Of course, if you are exceptionally tall and are travelling on a long flight you may be prepared to pay a little extra to ensure your comfort.
If you are unable to secure a window or aisle seat at the check-in counter, you can try again with the gate staff as they have final say on seating arrangements and may seat you in a more preferable location, if available.
Once the plane is in flight and everyone is settled, ask the flight attendant if a window or aisle seat is open. You may have to move to a less desirable section of the plane, say at the back near the toilets, but at least you will have some legroom.
If all else fails and you are stuck with the middle seat, we offer some tips to make your flight more pleasant.
Commandeer the armrests – proper travel etiquette sees the person in the middle seat receive priority on the armrests. Make sure you board the flight quickly so you will beat your fellow passengers to your seat and can mark your armrest territory. If you prefer the space on the armrests closest to the seatback, then politely claim it.
Make sure you use the bathroom before you board your flight. Hopefully this will save you having to get up from your seat in-flight. Nobody really likes having to interrupt their movie, book or nap to let a seatmate up to use the toilet.
Pack neck pillows, eye masks, headphones or whatever else will help you to sleep and be comfortable in your carry-on luggage.
Ensure that you store your carry-on luggage in the overhead compartment rather than under the seat in front of you to secure you a little more legroom to stretch out.
What are your preferences for an airplane seat? Do you have any tips on surviving the middle seat?