A New Middle Seat Design Could Mean More Room on Airplanes

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And the changes could be coming as soon as spring 2020.

One thing travelers complain about the most has to be the ever-shrinking room on airplanes. But no flyer likely has more grievances than the one stuck in the middle seat. Unless traveling with family, few people willingly choose to be sandwiched between strangers as the already tight arm and leg space becomes that much more limited. But that could all be changing soon as a new middle seat designed passed FAA approval.

Molon Labe Seating proposed the S1 design that staggers the height and row placement of the middle seat. This change would widen the cramped space three to five inches and allow for two-level armrests. That means no one would have to fight over the precious arm space. "That little bit of stagger means that every single person gets to spread out a little more," Hank Scott, Molon Labe founder, and CEO said in an interview. "No seats are any smaller, one seat ends up being wider, and we've solved the elbow wars."

Now, S1 seats won't fix all the problems of flying in economy. You don't get any more legroom, and the seats don't recline. But some manufacturers argue that it's actually the width of the seat, not pitch, that makes the difference when it comes to comfort. So, it might actually feel roomier than if you had the more talked about design flaws.

Molon Labe Seating isn't the only one looking for space-maximizing designs. The Embraer 190-E2 revealed last year that they were looking to get rid of the middle seat altogether and feature a cabin with a 2-2 configuration and larger windows. And a patent for Airbus published in 2015 showed alternating rows of seats perched on an elevated deck giving seats the ability to recline about 130 degrees to 180 degrees.

According to Scott, it's a "no brainer" for an airline to implement their design. And it sounds like some are listening as it's coming to two major airlines by April or May of 2020.