You’ve just checked in for your flight and discovered the dreaded news: you’re assigned the middle seat. If you’re anything like me, you are searching for ways to make this experience more bearable.
We all know the discomforts of the middle seat: limited space, no window view, and the awkwardness of being sandwiched between two strangers. It can feel like the longest hours of your life, especially on a long-haul flight.
As a seasoned travel enthusiast, I’ve spent my fair share of time in the middle seat. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered strategies to transform the middle seat experience from unbearable to manageable.
This guide is for all travelers, whether you’re a frequent flyer or an occasional vacationer. If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in the middle seat or want to prepare for the possibility, this post is for you to survive the middle seat.
I understand your pain because I’ve been there too. But trust me, with the right approach; you can survive the middle seat and maybe even find a silver lining. Let’s navigate this journey together.
In the following sections, we’ll explore practical tips and strategies to help you survive the middle seat on a plane. From asserting your armrest rights to optimizing your storage, these tips will equip you to survive the middle seat journey with confidence.
The Art Of Seat Negotiation
The ideal way to survive the middle seat is, quite simply, not to end up there in the first place. Once you’re airborne, politely ask a flight attendant if there’s an available aisle or window seat. This tactic might only work about 10% of the time, but it’s worth a shot.
The Art Of Seat Negotiation: A Love Story
Sometimes, the middle seat isn’t just a random assignment; it’s a choice. If you’re like me, you might willingly choose the middle seat to sit next to a loved one. In my case, it’s my husband who always prefers the aisle seat.
Choosing the middle seat can be a small sacrifice for the sake of companionship, especially on long flights. It’s an opportunity to share experiences, engage in deep conversations, or simply enjoy each other’s company in the confined space of an airplane cabin.
However, even when you choose the middle seat out of love, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer through the journey. Here are some strategies to make the experience more comfortable:
Negotiate with your partner: If you’re traveling with a companion who prefers the aisle or window seat, try to negotiate some benefits for yourself. For instance, they could take on the responsibility of communicating with the flight attendant or getting up when you need to use the restroom.
Ask for a seat change post-takeoff: If the flight isn’t full, there might be a chance to move to an empty aisle or window seat after takeoff. This way, you can still sit next to your loved one during takeoff and landing but enjoy a bit more space during the flight.
Use the middle seat to your advantage: Being in the middle seat means you have two armrests. Make sure to claim them both. It’s an unspoken rule of air travel that the middle seat gets both armrests, so don’t feel shy about it.
Remember, the middle seat doesn’t always have to be a dreaded spot. We do have a few more ideas on how to survive the middle seat for those of you who really don’t like the middle seat.
Assert Your Armrest Rights
In the unspoken rules of air travel, the middle seat occupant is entitled to both armrests. After all, the window seat passenger has the view, and the aisle seat passenger has extra legroom. If a neighbor tries to claim your armrest, a friendly joke or a polite request can usually resolve the issue. After all, how to survive the middle seat will take a bit of assertiveness.
The Recline Debate
Opinions vary on the etiquette of seat reclining. However, when you’re in the middle seat, comfort takes precedence. Feel free to recline your seat, especially if the person in front of you does so.
The Benefits of Early Boarding: How To Get A Head Start
Boarding early can make a significant difference in your flight experience, especially when you just can’t survive the middle seat. It allows you to settle into your seat at your own pace, organize your belongings, and create a comfortable space for the journey ahead. But how can you ensure you’re one of the first to board?
Here Are Some Strategies:
Check-In Early: Most airlines allow you to check in online 24 hours before your flight. Early check-in will give you an earlier boarding group. So, set a reminder and check in as soon as possible, and you may not have to survive the middle seat.
Join Frequent Flyer Programs: Many airlines have priority boarding for members of their frequent flyer programs. Even basic membership can come with perks like early boarding.
Consider a Credit Card with Travel Perks: Some travel credit cards offer priority boarding as a benefit. If you travel frequently, it might be worth considering one of these cards.
Pay for Priority Boarding: If all else fails, you can often pay for priority boarding. If you cannot survive the middle seat and some can’t, this is a helpful option.
By boarding early, you’ll have the time to get settled without feeling rushed or disturbing your seatmates. It’s a simple strategy that can significantly help you survive the middle seat or avoid the middle seat altogether.
Comfort Is Key
A neck pillow can be a game-changer to survive the middle seat. Other comfort aids, like a blanket or an eye mask, will make a big difference.
Pre-Flight Bathroom Break
To minimize the need to disturb your seatmates, use the restroom before boarding. This simple step can make your flight much more comfortable.
Optimize Your Storage
Maximize your legroom by stowing your bag in the overhead compartment. Just be sure to take out anything you’ll need during the flight before you stow your bag. Or another option is to choose a backpack that will easily stow under the seat in front of you. Choose one that is slightly smaller so you can stretch your legs out around it.
Keeping your mind occupied can make the flight go faster. Whether it’s a book, a movie, or a puzzle, having something to do can make the middle seat more bearable.
Make Use Of The Tray Table
If you forget your neck pillow, the tray table can serve as a makeshift headrest. Just be sure it’s clear of food and drinks first!
How To Secure An Empty Middle Seat: A Strategic Approach
Here is one suggestion that will help you avoid how to survive the middle seat. An empty middle seat can feel like a luxury, providing extra space to stretch out and relax. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself on a less-than-full flight, here’s a strategy to increase your chances of securing that coveted empty middle seat:
Ask About the Flight Capacity: When you board, ask if the flight is full. The flight attendant at the door usually has this information. If it’s not, you might have a chance to secure an empty middle seat.
Split Up Strategically: If you’re traveling with a companion, don’t sit together. Instead, you should take the window seat, and the other should take the aisle seat. Splitting up leaves the middle seat open, which is typically the last to be chosen by solo travelers.
Appear Occupied: Once you’re seated, put on your headphones and avoid making eye contact with other passengers. Appearing occupied can discourage them from asking to sit in the middle seat.
Politely Decline Seat Requests: If someone asks to take your seat, kindly explain that they’re welcome to take the middle seat. Most people prefer to find another spot rather than squeeze into the middle.
Remember, this strategy only works if the flight isn’t full. If the flight is full, it’s important to be considerate of other passengers and follow the seating arrangements. With a bit of luck and these tips, you might just find yourself with a bit more room to breathe on your next flight.
The Silver Lining
Believe it or not, there are a couple of advantages to the middle seat. For one, you’re more likely to get an upgrade, as flight attendants often sympathize with your need to survive the middle seat. Plus, statistically speaking, the middle seat is the safest place on the plane.
Remember, surviving the middle seat is all about strategy and attitude. With these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to survive the middle seat on your next journey.
Frequently Asked Questions: How To Survive The Middle Seat
Navigating the middle seat on a plane can raise a lot of questions, especially if you’re not a frequent flyer. To help you prepare for your next flight, we’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions about surviving the middle seat.
Is there any advantage to choosing the middle seat on a plane?
While we often see the middle seat as the least desirable spot, it does have a few advantages. For one, you have access to two armrests. Also, if you’re traveling with a companion and the flight isn’t full, you might be able to secure an empty seat between you for extra space. Plus, flight attendants may be more likely to offer upgrades to help you survive the middle seat.
How can I make the middle seat more comfortable?
There are several strategies to make the middle seat more comfortable. Boarding early allows you to settle in and organize your space. Bringing a neck pillow provides support for sleeping, and using both armrests can give you a bit more room. Also, keeping yourself occupied with a book, movie, or other activity can help the time pass more quickly.
What should I do if I’m stuck in the middle seat on a long flight?
If you’re in the middle seat on a long flight, preparation is key. Use the restroom before boarding, stow your bag in the overhead bin to maximize legroom, and bring items like a neck pillow, blanket, and headphones to enhance your comfort. Don’t hesitate to recline your seat, and try to keep yourself busy with entertainment or work. Remember, it’s all about making the best of the situation.
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Conclusion: Turning The Middle Seat Into A Sweet Spot
How to survive the middle seat on a plane doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience. With the right strategies, a positive mindset, and a bit of luck, your journey will be an opportunity instead of a challenge.
We can all survive the middle seat, whether it’s securing the armrests, boarding early, or even managing to keep the middle seat empty. These tips will help you navigate the skies with a tad bit of assertiveness and a lot more comfort.
Remember, every flight is an adventure, and even the middle seat has its unique advantages. So the next time you find yourself in the middle, don’t despair. Instead, see it as a chance to put your travel skills to the test.
Happy travels, my friends.