Middle Seat Misery

5 Ways to Make the Best of a Middle Seat

Podcast Episode # 12

 by Brad Kammlah

In this Episode, You'll Learn:

  • How to avoid the middle seat in the first place
  • Last minute ways to switch seats
  • How to make the most of the small space
  • The best airplane activities for the middle seat

Nobody wants the middle seat

Most of us hate the middle seat. It’s cramped, you’re constantly fighting for the armrests and you don’t get to lean against the window or stretch out into the aisle. And while there are a few Middle Seaters that we talked about in Episode 11, let’s face it… it’s the worst seat on the plane!

That’s is unless your comedian Brian Regan, who says he used to “call the middle” as a kid since he knew his brothers would make him sit there anyway.

But for the rest of us, if we’re in a middle seat we probably don’t want to be there. But sometimes, despite your best efforts you’ve found yourself in a middle seat and you’re stuck there. So today we’re going to talk about 5 Ways to Make the Best of a Middle Seat.


5 Ways to Make the Best of a Middle Seat

1 Switch Seats

Ask the Gate Agent to Switch Seats

It never hurts to approach the Gate Agent when you get to the gate and politely ask them that you’d love a window or aisle if anything opens up. Since most flights are oversold, there may be nothing they can do about it. But sometimes as they are working to rearrange parties on the plane they might have an opening and give it to you. It never hurts to ask.

Look for Open Seats on the Plane

Every once and a while there will be an open seat. If it’s in the same cabin class you’re in, it’s usually not a problem if you just get up and take the open seat. The only time it’s an issue is when the airline charges more for certain seats like exit rows or economy plus. So if you move yourself up there the flight attendants might ask you to move. I find it easier just to ask the flight attendants first. If I’m in a particularly cramped in a middle seat I might just politely ask them to let me know if a seat opens up with more space. And often they are happy to help, especially if they see you wedged uncomfortably in your seat.

Look for Separated Parties

Sometimes you might find a couple on a plane who isn’t sitting together but wants to and they might be willing to switch seats. Depending on where they are sitting sometimes you can find yourself in a better seat.

Pay Extra for a Window or Aisle

Many times there is an open window or aisle seat if you’re willing to pay to upgrade to a different cabin. If I know that it’s a particularly long flight (anything over 3 hours) or I know I really need to get some work done on that flight, then the $50 fee for the upgrade might be well worth it.

2 Make the Most of Your Small Space

It’s pretty cramped in the middle seat so you’ll want to take advantage of whatever space you have. Put as many things in the overhead bin as possible. Even a little extra leg room in the middle seat can go a long way to feeling more comfortable.

3 Use Both Arm Rests

This tip should probably be called “Get Control of Both Arm Rests” because it can often feel like a fight on the plane to see who gets control of the arm rests. If your seat mates are courteous travelers they will give you both armrests as a consolation prize for being stuck in the middle seat, but not everyone got the memo. Instead of fighting your neighbor for the armrest I find it easier to find a way to share the armrest. If they are using the back of it closest to the seat, I might lean forward and use the front of it.

4 Opt for Middle Seat Activities

If you’re trying to get out your laptop and do some serious typing in the middle seat, you’re likely to get frustrated pretty quickly. It can feel like you’re a Tyrannosaurus Rex typing on your keyboard. I instead opt for things that don’t take up a lot of space like:

5 Make a Friend or Contact

I’m an introvert and often like to catch up on work on the plane so it frees up my time when I’m home, but in the cramped quarters of a middle seat sometimes your best option is just to get to know your neighbor. So why not take advantage of the close proximity and make a friend or business contact.

Wrap Up

That’s 5 Ways to Make Best of Middle Seat. I hope these tips help you the next time you find yourself in middle seat.

Thanks so much for listening and Happy Travels!


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