Why Flying On A Middle Seat Is Best On Some Airlines

Once travelers get over the awe, magic, and wonder of speeding through the air at 600mph and 35,000ft above the ground, they start to have issues with certain aspects of the flight. One of those aspects is being stuck in the dreaded middle seat. However, some airlines have been changing their seating choices, making the middle seat better – or at least not as bad…

Delta
A shot of Delta’s A220-100 cabin interior. The middle seat of the A220 is slightly wider than the aisle or window seats. Photo: Delta News Hub via Wikipedia

Why middle seats suck

It’s probably not necessary to explain why middle seats are usually the worst seat on the aircraft, especially to our well-traveled readers (but we’ll go ahead anyway).

Not only does the middle seat often have a person on either side, it also lacks the view and side-head-support offered by the window seat. There isn’t the easy lavatory/stand-up access offered by the aisle seat either. What’s worse is that in some cases, the middle seat leg area also has a hard metal box that is part of the inflight-entertainment system, eating up some must needed leg space. In fact, middle seats are usually tied for ‘worst place’ with the back row of seats that don’t recline.

There are even more benefits to not having the middle seat. For a window seat, there is a reduction in the disturbance of having a fellow passenger ask to get past you in order to go to the lavatory. And for the aisle seat, longer-legged folk can sometimes stretch out into the aisle from the to time.

Why Flying On A Middle Seat Is Best On Some Airlines
Spirit Airlines has an extra-wide middle seat in its refreshed A320 cabin, which is progressively being rolled out across the fleet. Photo: Spirit Airlines

What airlines are doing about it

For all of the above reasons – the middle seat is a fairly undesirable place to be. However, some airlines (and seat manufacturers) have taken pity on us lowly travelers, integrating a little bit of compensation for the middle seat…

Some airlines have partnered with seat manufacturers to make the middle seat a little bit wider. In the case of Spirit Airlines, middle seats will gain an additional inch of width in their new and updated A320 cabins. These seats are one inch wider at 18 inches, compared to 17 inches for the window and aisle seats.

And then there is Airbus’ single-aisle A220. This aircraft offers the “widest economy seats of any single-aisle aircraft” according to the manufacturer. While the non-middle seats are a generous 18+ inches, the aircraft’s middle seats are even wider at 19 inches.

This certainly seems like a decent consolation feature for any passenger who didn’t want the seat to begin with.

 

Air Canada A220
The A220 has some of the widest seats in coach across Air Canada’s fleet. Photo: Air Canada

Conclusion

While it’s been over fifty years since commercial air travel has been a part of our lives, it’s great that aircraft and aircraft seat manufacturers are starting to pay more specific attention to the comfort of middle seat passengers.

The extra width offered to the middle seat by some aircraft and airlines is especially important for those who might be a little wider themselves. This combined with only having to disturb one person to get to the lavatory (instead of two from the window seat), and it makes the middle seat a much better experience.

The question now is whether or not the extra width is enough to stop travelers from complaining…

Have you ever wanted the middle seat more than the window or aisle? Why? Let us know in the comments!

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