"There's no justice in air travel," an airline industry insider once told me. A third of passengers on planes get stuck with a middle seat, getting smushed for hours at a time in a chair that costs exactly the same ticket price as a window or aisle. That just stinks.
But what if we could rethink the middle seat to be more comfortable? In 2017, we wrote about a landmark airplane seat called the S1. Its design is unique in that it staggers the typical three-seat arrangement, so that middle-seat passengers sit slightly behind others in their row. Last month, the S1 received FAA approval to be installed on planes; an undisclosed U.S .airline will be putting them on 50 planes by the end of 2020.
The S1 has been in development for five years, and the team behind it at Molon Labe Seating is a mere six people, including sales and operations staff. Designed for commuter flights of only a few hours max, the S1 moves the middle seat a few inches lower than, and back from, the aisle and window seat. It also widens the seat by about three inches. This allows your arms, shoulders, thighs, and elbows to spread just a bit more than they otherwise could, without giving the seat more legroom or reducing a plane's seating capacity (which translates to profit margins for airlines).