Wider middle seats a solution to the seating squeeze?

This week our members debate the pros and cons of making the middle seats on planes wider. Middle seats are usually an unpopular choice for flyers as passengers in middle seats are wedged between two other passengers. Middle seat occupants often complain of having less space and the seats can be particularly uncomfortable for larger passengers. So is this a possible solution to the seating squeeze?

One member spruiks numerous benefits to the proposal. They opine that wider middle seats will make the middle seats more popular with flyers. They would also make the journey more comfortable for larger flyers.

The airline will be moving the middle seat inventory, not just as a last choice. The seats will be a boon for those with bigger posterior, seriously.

Other members are not so convinced by the plan’s practicality. Firstly, they point out that the extra space will need to come from somewhere. On smaller aircraft, seating is already a squeeze with narrow seats and aisles. Shaving an inch or two off the width of other seats, or the aisle, is not as simple as it might sound.

Problem is that “few inches” has to come from somewhere. And it can only come from the aisle (and there has to be a minimum there for safety of crew and PAX, or the other seats. And skinnier Y seats aren’t really an option.

And what about wide bodies (the aircraft) where there is more than one middle seat per row. A few inches times 4 and it starts to add up.

Many members believe that, in reality, no airline is likely to make seats wider or increase legroom unless they believe they can charge extra for the privilege. Almost all airlines currently charge for seats with extra legroom, such as exit row seats. Some airlines in the United States even offer wider aisle seats for a fee. But if there is no financial incentive to widen middle seats, it is perhaps unlikely to happen in a world where profits often come before passenger comfort.

Add your opinion to the mix HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]