When you’re booking your plane tickets most people will ask for a window or an aisle seat. No one wants to be stuck in the middle seat – there’s just too many possibilities for something to go wrong, such as overweight passengers on either side of you encroaching in your territory, or a long-legged giant making it virtually impossible to access overhead lockers or make it to the toilet on time. These occasions make those window and aisle seats worth more than gold.
But what of those times you find yourself stuck in a middle seat? Well, there’s no need to fear the in-between seat with our middle-seat survival guide.
Prepare well beforehand
It’s annoying business bashing elbows with the passenger next to you whilst you’re hunting around in your bag for your book, phone or anything else for that matter. And, as mentioned earlier, you may have trouble getting to overhead storage to access your goodies during a flight, so it does pay to pack wisely beforehand. Set yourself up with everything you’ll need for your flight, including snacks, reading materials, tech and headphones and place it all in the pocket on the rear of the seat in front of you for easy access.
Board early and stake your claim
It can be difficult to get comfortable when two people on either side of you are cramping you, but if you are the first in your seat, you’ll have the freedom to remove your jacket, stow your bags with ease and organise all that you’ll need to make your flight as pleasant as possible.
And claim the armrests
It’s an unspoken rule that the occupant of the middle seat has the rights to the armrests, but, chances are, on the occasion that you cop the in-between seat the people on either side of you will have no idea about airplane etiquette. So get in early and claim those armrests – they’ll soon get the idea, and if they don’t, a gentle reminder won’t hurt proceedings.
Keep your carry-on to a minimum
There’s not a lot of room on airplane seats – unless you’re in business or first class of course. So conserve what you do have by keeping your carry-on baggage to a minimum. Take out all that you’ll need to access during the flight, and store the rest in the overhead compartment. That way you’ll maximise the minimal room available to you.
Be nice to your neighbour
It’s not your neighbour’s fault that you ended up in the middle, so break the ice with a little joke and engage in some small talk. You may learn a thing or two about your destination and, should you require some assistance from them during your flight, your chances of help will improve by being friendly.
Take along a neck pillow
Okay, so they’re not the trendiest of travel items, but a neck pillow is a must-have accessory when travelling in the middle seat. There’s nothing worse than being woken up because you’ve nodded off and drooled on the passenger next to you.
Pop on some noise-cancelling headphones and immerse yourself in sounds of your choosing. There’s nothing better to take you to another place than a good selection of travel tunes, especially if you find yourself in a not-so-comfy situation.
Bring a good book
Some good tunes may be the best way to take you to another place, and when you couple that with getting into a great book, and you can really tune out the world the around you.
Use the toilet before take-off
Okay, so this one will only really work on a short-ish flight, but at least it will limit the amount of times you have to unsettle your neighbour. And the best (smelling) time to use the toilet is before anyone else, so get in there and do what you need to!
Look around and speak up for a spare seat
Once the flight is boarded, look around for any spare seats. You may even be able to ask your flight attendant to keep an eye out for you. Most often an attendant will allow you to switch seats, so long as you inform them beforehand.
Now, take a breath and relax
The middle seat isn’t so bad, and hey, if you’re on your way to a fun holiday things can only get better.
Do you have any middle-seat survival suggestions? Why not share them with our members?