For most (but not all) travelers, the middle seat on an airplane is akin to the ninth circle of Hades. The middle seat essentially doubles the pressure to talk with a seatmate, although putting on headphones and an eye mask is generally accepted as the universal ‘do not disturb’ sign.
On the flip side, and believe it or not, there are some perks to having the middle seat!
Whether you love it or loathe it, there are times when you are faced with being stuck in the middle seat. Here’s everything you need to know about the middle seat on an airplane.
Not everyone who asks you to switch seats is scamming you, but there’s been a recent revival of an old scam that you should know about. It goes like this:
Traveler A gets their hands on a seat with extra legroom. They ask Traveler B (in the same row) to switch seats so they can sit with a family member or friend.
The problem is that the third party’s seat isn’t as nice as the one Traveler B is being asked to give up.
If you’re seated in premium economy and bought, earned, or scored an upgrade with benefits like more legroom, drinks, and snacks, you are under no obligation to switch seats.
Here’s a video by one TikToker sharing the right way to ask to switch seats on a plane. And just for good measure, here’s how not to ask a fellow traveler to switch seats.
This one shocked us too. Apparently, one specific type of seat could keep you safer in the event of a plane crash.
According to research by a professor at Queensland University, the middle seats in the last two rows of the plane are, statistically speaking, the safest seats to be in if the plane crashes.
If you’re worried about plane crashes and like statistical odds, now you know what seat to pick!
When you’re sitting in the middle seat, the following are generally accepted as good etiquette to follow at a minimum:
There’s an unwritten rule that the person in the middle seat gets to control both armrests. It’s an unwritten rule, however, so it may not always work.
If you are stuck in the middle seat and want to get out of it, there’s another way. Have you heard the term ‘omiyage’? It means a gift of gratitude and goodwill.
Johnny Jet recommends traveling with unique chocolates that you can use as omiyage.
Remember that the gate agent controls the seats before you board the plane, and flight attendants offer service once you’re onboard. So, if you’re trying to get out of the middle seat, consider a gift as a token of appreciation to a gate agent, and perhaps, they’ll switch your seats.
Airlines are well aware of the fact that most passengers don’t like the middle seat. One particular airline has gotten creative about the middle seat issue.
Virgin Australia launched a Middle Seat Lottery with over $230,000 worth of prizes, making sitting in the middle seat something to celebrate.
Entry in the lottery is simple:
If you’re stuck in the middle seat and may or may not win the lottery, a sleep hack can help you fall asleep.
This military-proven technique developed for fighter pilots helps you fall asleep in two minutes. Master it, and you can forget you’re in the middle seat.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.