The Middle Seat Experience


Ask any aeroplane passenger about their seating preference and they will either say window or aisle. While I suspect most people enjoy the middle seat even less than the musical works of Justin Beiber, there are times when you are unable to avoid it. Sometimes the clerk assigns you a middle seat despite you pre-booking an aisle seat. Other times you travel with someone who says “I promise I’ll swap seats later. I know I said it last time but I really mean it this time”.

Sitting the middle seat not only doubles your chances of sitting next to the world’s most overweight person, it also means you have higher odds of someone falling asleep on your shoulder, sneezing on your food, or giving you a lesson about pig farming in Nebraska despite the fact that you are wearing headphones and reading a book.

Middle seats are even more challenging when you sit next to a first time flyer. I once had the pleasure of sitting next to a lady who refused to believe me when I told her that her giant duffel bag actually belonged in the overhead compartment rather than in my leg room. She didn’t seem to believe the air hostess either.

15 minutes into the flight I no longer cared about the leg room because I absorbed by the fact that I was being elbowed in the ribs every 2 minutes. The lady, unaware of The International Armrest Agreement, had not only claimed the armrest for herself, but also positioned her elbow about 3 inches past the armrest. Keen on putting an end to this, I snagged the armrest the moment she took her arm off it. She promptly placed her arm on top of mine and continued to elbow me in the ribs.

Defeated, I retracted my arm, plugged my headphones in and shut my eyes. In the meanwhile, my beloved neighbour chose to entertain herself by changing radio stations and adjusting the volume for me. After about 10 minutes I finally snapped and told her I would go deaf if she made the volume any higher to which she responded “Music comes out of there?”, before returning to fiddling with the volume controls.