How often is the middle seat open? Probably not that often these days, right? But it does sometimes happen, and man is it great! However, sometimes sharing the middle seat can be a little tricky. On a recent flight, the middle seat was empty, and as we took off I thought: Hallelujah! Until the lady next to me pulled out her large purse and dropped it in the seat. I figured that surely she was just getting something out and would put it away quickly. But no, she left it there the whole flight. Another time, the guy in my row put his laptop on the seat (and it was a big one so it took up all the space) and left it there for like two hours of a four hour flight.
My recommendation is to treat the middle seat like you did when you were a kid on road trips with your siblings: draw a line down the middle, and try not to encroach onto the other half. I know it’s tempting to get everything you might possibly need out of your carryon and put it on the middle seat, but it’s just not necessary. Obviously if you need to set your laptop on the seat while you reach down to get something out of your bag that’s not a big deal, but leaving it there for the whole flight is rude IMO. Like with all etiquette, just try to remember that you are sharing the plane with a lot of other people and treat them the way you would like to be treated!
Readers, what do you think about sharing the middle seat? Is it first come first serve, or should you just take your half?