More Middle Seats To Hate

Everybody hates middle seats on airplanes, and with good reason. What many people don’t realize is that there are proportionately more middle seats to hate than ever before.

As wide-body jets become less common, especially on domestic flights, passengers are more likely to be flying on narrow-body jets: the Boeing 737 and 757 or the Airbus A319 or A320.

And these jets are all configured the same way in coach: three seats on each side of a single aisle. That means that a third of the seats are middle seats. (Actually, slightly less because most configurations have a few two-seat rows around galleys, lavatories or exits.) 

A quick consultation with reveals that, for example, a Delta 737-700 has 112 seats in coach, 36 of them middle seats. That’s 32 percent.

And it’s actually more middle seats than in a Delta 767-400, which has 238 coach seats, only 34 of them in the middle. That’s 14 percent, and it’s because the coach seats are configured in three rows of two, three and two. Only one of seven seats in a typical row is a middle seat.

The whole thing came to mind because of an email I got from 3M about survey results it released a few weeks ago. The survey revealed that Americans hate to sit in the middle seat, and that most would rather go to the dentist.

Of course they would. The dentist’s chair is comfortable, and there are painkillers.

 Anyway, 3M, which makes privacy screens for computers, is now offering a free Middle Seat Survival Guide and a chance to win first-class tickets to anywhere in the continental United States.

I believe myself entitled to those tickets because I have suffered more than most in middle seats. As one of seven children, I was subjected throughout my youth to middle seats in station wagons and the sharp elbows of my larger siblings.

Oh, children of small families and SUVs, you have no idea of the suffering. Until you get on a plane.


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