Stuck Between Two Strangers


As more and more aircrafts roll off the line in a 3 and 3 seat configuration, the battle over the window and aisle now includes the dreaded middle seat. Add to this the fact that airlines are trying to maximize profit and decreasing your leg room, the middle seat is truly the least desirable place on the plane.

This weekend I flew home from Winnipeg and found myself stuck in between two complete strangers. Both people had their headphones on watching TV, so there was no awkward conversations, but I want to discuss the etiquette surrounding how your should treat your middle seat neighbour.

Let’s start with the battle over the arm rest. If you are at the window, your privilege is the great view from 40,000 feet. Located below this amazing view, you will find your arm rest. If you are seated at the aisle, you get the advantage of the extra space provided by the aisle. Look beside you in that large empty space and you too can find your arm rest. Be courteous to your middle neighbour, give them both of the 2 inch wide arm rests. They deserve the extra 4 inches of space for being the meat in your airplane sandwich.

Now that we have wedged ourselves in together and defined everyone’s space, let’s discuss how we are going to keep ourselves amused. In Canada, we are lucky enough that the two main national air carries have individual televisions on most of their aircraft. If television isn’t your thing, you could try listening to music. Perhaps a book is something you enjoy more, that is great, especially if it is on some form of e reader (which cannot be used during takeoff or landing) as it takes very little space. However, a newspaper is wider than the width of your seat. If you are in the middle seat, this isn’t an acceptable form of inflight entertainment.

Finally, we are in the air and had our light snack and sip of refreshments when all of a sudden the seat belt sign will go off signalling your body that you need to go to the bathroom. You look beside you and one of your airplane seat sandwich buddies is sleeping. How long do you resist waking them up before you take a tour of the aircrafts luxurious washrooms? My opinion is that being woken up is the price of selecting your seat. In the age of paid seat selection or 24-hour checkin, avoiding the middle seat is possible if you plan ahead and select your place on the plane.

What is your middle seat dilemma? What do you do to avoid the middle seat?

Hope this clears up some of disputes about space on the plane. Special thanks to Lisa M for this blog idea. You should follow her on Twitter by clicking here.

Happy travels!

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