What Would Actually Make the Middle Seat on a Plane Better?

PHOTO: hxdbzxy / Shutterstock

I have ideas and they are NOT unreasonable.

The middle seat on a plane is bad. There is no getting around this statement or making it any prettier. There is no metaphor I chould use to describe how and why it is bad–it just sucks. It. Sucks.

Even if the people on either side of you are following the golden rule of plane seats, and letting you use both armrests, the middle seat is still bad. You are between two strangers, without the solace of being able to look out the window or the peace that comes with knowing you can leave your seat and use the restroom easily and without bothering anyone (or inconveniencing yourself at all). You’re a little sardine. You’re a little human cylinder who must keep your arms contained, unable to move TOO much and to either side at all.

So, in a perfect world, what would make this horrible little seat better? I’ve put together a few proposed solutions, should any scientist or plane engineer (builder?) choose to actually listen to me for once (I know you’ve received my other letters–don’t even act like you haven’t).

You’re a little human cylinder who must keep your arms contained, unable to move TOO much and to either side at all.

Let’s Just Get This One Out of the Way First

The seat should be bigger. It should be bigger than the other two seats in the row. More seat in the middle–this is just obvious. The middle seat should be bigger. No more questions, thank you.

Give the Middle Person a Prize to Eat or Drink

What sort of prize? This depends on the person, really. First of all, if they drink, they should absolutely be given at least one free little bottle of alcohol. Being given alcohol, for free, would definitely make the middle seat experience better. But then again, not everyone drinks alcohol OR maybe it’s 6 a.m. and you do not want alcohol at this time OR maybe you are a child, and legally you cannot be served alcohol. This is understandable. In that case, the person sitting in the middle seat should be given a different sort of treat–maybe it’s a dessert, maybe it’s just a free hummus tray from the plane menu–regardless, the person sitting in the middle seat deserves a free little treat for their mouths.

Less Room for Your Arms Should Mean More Room for Your Legs

When you are in the Middle Seat, your torso and arms are more contained. That is just a fact. Therefore, if my math is correct–and it always is–this means that your LEGS should be LESS contained. Figure it out! I don’t build planes. But, if the middle seat is larger (see above), the legroom beneath the seat in front of the passenger would also be expanded.

You Should Be Offered a Small Privacy Tent

Upon boarding the plane and taking your seat, in the middle, you should be given a small tent of sorts. The tent will fit exactly around the upper half of your body and can be erected by attaching it to the armrests and then it flips up. The privacy will compensate for the lack of comfort.

You Should Be Given Special Headphones

If you’re sitting in the middle seat, you should be given special headphones–good ones, not the crappy trash ones that barely work (I’m looking at you, Every Pair of Headphones an Airline Has Ever Given Me). And by “good,” I do mean good–we’re talking Beats by Dre, noise-canceling headphones. That’s right–make it work.

If you are to be squeezed in the middle of two complete strangers, you deserve to not hear anything but pure peace.

The headphones will be located right above your head, in the ceiling, by the buttons for reading lights and air conditioning, and will have their own button for you to push. These headphones do not play music–they would essentially be a sound machine. White noise, ocean waves, a thunderstorm–your choice. If you are to be squeezed in the middle of two complete strangers, you deserve to not hear anything but pure peace.

Screw It–Treat Them Like First-Class Passengers

I’m sick of beating around the bush here. Give the middle seat people special perks. When they board, give them a little lavender-infused towel to sweetly pat their face with. If they drink, offer them a pre-flight glass of champagne. If not? Hand them sparkling water. If they HATE water? I don’t know. I guess ask them what they want to drink–but BEFORE the flight, so it’s still special. What else do first-class passengers get? Give them that. Give them all of it. I’m sick of playing around here, the middle seat is horrible. Give them whatever they want.

I made a graph, indicating when the middle seat is tolerable. Myra Thompson / Shutterstock

And Lastly… There Should Be No Middle Seat

Remove the middle seat. Remove ALL the middle seats, and leave a giant space in between the aisle seat and the window seat.

Just make the plane longer.

You: But that would make it so that there are WAY fewer seats on planes!

Me: Make the plane longer.

That’s right–just make the plane longer. I want to see planes, doubled in size, soaring through the air–safely, too. These planes will be, in theory, completely safe and very, very long.

So, there you have it, folks. Just make the plane longer and take out the middle seat and everything–every problem in the world–will be solved. If you are a scientist or someone who builds planes professionally, I welcome you to email me so that we can discuss my ideas and also pay me for giving them to you. You’re welcome.