The humble middle seat on board an airliner. Nobody wants to sit there, hemmed in by burly football players on each side… or actually, depending on what you like, that might be a bonus!
When travelling as a pair, there is a trick which involves a little chance and a little luck that can get you extra space. I call it the middle seat trick. Here’s how it works!
A Trick When Booking
Virtually no-one books a middle seat. When selecting seats at the booking stage these are the pariahs on the map and are usually free. You only see them taken when a pair is flying and one wants the window or aisle and their partner is stuck next to them in the centre.
Instead of booking the aisle or window and putting one person in the middle, book smart. Put one person in an aisle seat and one person in a window seat. This way the middle seat is free and you will have extra space, with a little luck.
But What If Someone Sits In The Middle?
Since no-one in their right mind would actively choose the middle seat, if someone is sitting there the airline has assigned them that seat. No problem at all!
All you need to do is tell them you’ll take their seat to sit next to your wife/husband/friend/colleague and they can take the aisle seat. Most people are usually delighted by this stroke of good fortune and happily take up the offer.
And If The Middle Seat Stays Free?
With the seat free between you, the world is your oyster. It could be a place for your magazine or newspaper. Perhaps it will be the storage area for your coat or handbag during the flight.
During the meal service, live a little. Use the pull down tray from the middle seat as an extra drinks table in between you and your travelling companion. Pretend you’re in business class in Europe, where the middle seat free IS business class. Enjoy it all!
Travelling as a pair and selecting the window and aisle seats is the way forward. On more than one occasion I have had the middle remain free on a full flight. Agents can see both people are on the same ticket and the ones who care seat people elsewhere first.
It varies from airline to airline, but the chances are pretty good you’ll get to have extra space this way. Anything that helps gain a little more space in economy class is very important.
Have you done this yourself? Do you have any other tactics you use to improve your flight experience? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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You are right – sometimes I see a piece of information posted that makes me wince. Usually it has something a staff member breaking the rules a little bit to help a customer, then the person brags about it online which is just poor form. Situations like that should be kept under wraps, absolutely. Things like the middle seat, maybe not so much. Thanks for the comment 🙂
You can increase your odds a bit if you book the window/aisle pair closer to the back of the plane. Folks forced into a middle seat will typically take those closer to the front and console themselves with the fact that they can at least get out quicker at their destination. The other trick, which leaves less to chance, is to book aisle-aisle across from your travel companion. You each get a good seat, and are still adjacent (if not hand-holding adjacent). There’s still the risk of getting a less-than-optimal neighbor in the middle seat, but my wife and I… Read more »
Good advice there, that makes perfect sense to sit further down the back. Sitting down the back is no big deal, especially if you have hold baggage as it makes your baggage claim wait shorter.
I’ve seen lots of people doing the aisle/aisle thing actually. I agree that it makes sense. Beside each other yet plenty of space across the aisle. Thanks for the comment!
[…] “Instead of booking the aisle or window and putting one person in the middle, book smart. Put one person in an aisle seat and one person in a window seat. This way the middle seat is free and you will have extra space, with a little luck.” If the flight isn’t full, the seat will likely stay vacant. Try this hack with your travel buddy the next time you’re booking flights and see what happens. Luck might be on your side (via Travel Update). […]
I tried this trick twice and did not work, or we were not lucky for it to work out I guess! I will give it another try. I booked flight s to Europe and picked Aisle/window towards the back on both flights. Hopefully, it will happen this time
It always depends on how busy the flight is, of course. Flying during summer when everyone else is deciding to go on holidays probably makes it more difficult, as do busier routes and so on. I’m sure it’ll happen soon! Good luck!
This was a good trick … 20 years ago. These days most flights go out full, or very very close to it, so the chances that this works out is really low.
Glad to hear you’ve used it and have found it works! That’s really excellent. Thanks for your comment!
It could backfire.
Once I had a fat uncle come between me and my wife and he just could not get up due to obesity. He squeezed both of us for the flight and we had to put up with his sweaty smell. No more economy business experience for us 🙂
Hahaha – I hear you! That sounds like a memorable experience! That’s the risk you take, I guess. Hopefully that doesn’t happen too often!