There’s no elbow room, no shoulder room and certainly, no room for wiping your hot wet tears when you settle into your monkey-in-the-middle seat assignment on your next flight. No aisle for you, and no window either.
A few weeks ago, I conducted a little [unscientific] poll. Guess how many respondents chose the middle seat as their favorite place to pleasantly while away the hours whilst cruising along at 30,000 feet in the sky. Go ahead, it’s a sure thing for your win column today. Ding-ding-ding! You’re correct! Absolutely zot. You can be certain that the airlines know this too, and now that more and more of the flight experience is becoming à la carte, seat assignments (and their pricing) reflect the lack-of-lounge loathe that the center seat engenders in most of us.
This is no surprise to anyone who has stepped foot on a plane in the last 20 years, but what is surprising is that a Colorado-based startup, Molon Labe Seating, may have finally transformed that much-maligned center position into one that gives you some genuine bargaining power. If you enjoy actually using your armrests, having more lateral space and quicker loading and unloading, then this is for you.
Their S1: Space Seat, the first of three designs to go into production, is purpose-built for short-haul economy. The other two are the S2: Stagger Seat for long-haul economy flights and the S3: Side-Slip Seat, in which the aisle seat slides in above the middle one, making loading and unloading more efficient with a wider path for passengers. This also better accommodates passengers with accessibility issues. All are built with a slightly staggered placement, hence a wider middle seat (by 3-5 inches / 8-12 cm). The staggering allows for each passenger to use their own armrests, thus the end of elbow wars, and as passengers are not all strictly adjacent to one another, it concedes more shoulder room. The airlines should be happy about them too: They weigh less than normal seats, which cuts fuel costs.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved the S1 seats last month, and Hank Scott, the Founder and CEO, disclosed that he expects them to be available in two airlines by mid-2020. While not specifying which ones, he did say that one of them is based in North America.
They won’t solve everything about flying: You’ll still have the germy martyrs, the overspreaders and the games of luggage Jenga. Still, with just a little more personal real estate to call your own, your time in economy, just got a little bit less…..hellish?
By the way, in that poll I mentioned in the beginning, most people indicated that when traveling in twos with their partner, and there are rows of three, they choose to sit in neighboring aisle seats. What about you? Would this new seating change your perspective? Would you want to try it on the airlines that make it available?