Poll: Does an inch matter in the middle seat?

If you haven’t heard, low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines has announced they will be widening their middle seats frontier modelby an extra inch.  The new middle seat width will be 19.3 inches compared to 18.1 inches for aisle and window seats.  I personally never fly low-cost carriers because as a business traveler low-cost is not typically my highest priority.  However, I do like the idea of providing the middle seat flyer with a wider seat. (Take note, American and Southwest!)

In the meantime, here are some tips for those of you that end up in the middle seat.

Don’t be afraid to ask for the armrest. It’s really easy to fight a silent war of elbows, jockeying for the armrest. But it’s much harder to decline a polite request to share nicely. A simple, “Hi there. I don’t have much space here—mind if we share the armrest? Thank you!” can do wonders for turning the jerk next to you into a cooperative space-sharer.

Earn status.  If you’ve earned status the chances that you’ll be in the middle seat are much lower, but if you do get assigned a middle seat you’ll get to board earlier than most and therefore stake your claim to the armrest. And I know it sounds like a no-brainer, but just a tip: don’t put your seatbelt on until the person in the window has taken their seat. Saves time for both of you!

Organize your personal item.  It is darn near impossible to bend down in a middle seat to grab something out of your bag underneath the seat in front of you, so I recommend stashing your essentials in the seatback pocket.  But if you have to bend down your bag better be organized—the last thing you want to be doing is fumbling blindly through your bag crammed between two people. (Here are some tips for organizing a personal item.) Also be prepared for a charley horse or crick in your neck.  One time in the middle seat I leaned over to get something from my bag and got a horrible crick in my neck which in turn caused a 24-hour migraine.  Good times.

And that brings me to my poll question.   Is an inch enough extra space to get you to change your preference from aisle or window to the middle? Right now I run kicking and screaming from the middle seat at all times, and I don’t see that changing unless the middle seat is the same size as a first class seat. That being said, in the event that I had no choice but to fly in the middle you’d better believe I would appreciate that extra inch!

So, Readers, what do you think?

Is an inch enough extra space to get you to change your preference from aisle or window to the middle?

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  1. I think (though can’t be absolutely sure) that I’ve been on some Lufthansa aircraft (older seats, not the new and much-hated New Europe Cabin design) where the middle seats were a bit wider.

  2. I only cop the middle seat when I’m travelling with my husband, where we share the burden. My bum is much bigger than his, so that extra inch would probably motivate me to take it more often.

    My own situation aside, that extra inch sounds like a civilised thing to do for the poor middle seat guy!

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