5 Reasons Flyers Love the Middle Seat

For some people, the middle seat is not a curse to avoid, but an advantage to covet.

Ralphiee Esperas, a 30-year-old Phoenix resident who works in marketing, says his love for middle seats started a couple of years ago on a flight from Phoenix to Iowa, when he found himself in the middle seat on an overnight flight. . After striking up a conversation with the woman to her right, whom she remembers as being in her 60s, she offered to buy her a drink.

“I felt good about the situation, so I said, ‘I’m going to have a drink; the first round is on me,’” she says. Then the woman to her left, who Esperas said was in her early 20s, joined in after sharing that it was her birthday.

“We talked, the drinks were flowing and we kept buying each other rounds,” he says. The conversation covered “just life,” says Esperas, including what they did for a living and why they were traveling.

If, unlike Esperas, you’re someone who’s generally afraid of the middle seat, here are five reasons why you might consider giving it a go:

1. More networking opportunities

Carolyn Clancy, Executive Vice President of Fidelity, found a new job because he sat in a middle seat in 1999.

After striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to him, he ended up exchanging business cards and interviewing for a job at Fidelity, where he remains to this day.

2. New friends

As the experience of Esperas shows, a middle seat offers an excellent opportunity for unexpected connections.

“I want to hear other people’s stories. It is the best education about life, instead of just reading it on the Internet. I get a lot of energy from it,” she says. However, she acknowledges that he is the definition of an extrovert and that introverts can have a different perspective in long conversations with their seatmates.

Racing driver Kenny Wallace, who has a huge social media following, says he often opts for the middle seat as a way to pay. “I take the middle seat sometimes to help people under stress,” he says.

For example, you will volunteer to switch your aisle or window seat with someone apart from your family so you can sit together.

Occasionally, his generosity has led to more tangible benefits, like once last summer when he received free beer in exchange for moving to a middle seat in a different aisle so two sisters could sit together.

3. Faster output

If you don’t have assigned seats and can choose, often the middle seats are the last to be filled, which means that if you want to sit near the front of the plane, your best chance of finding an available seat is to choose one. The one in the middle.

If you know you’ll be in a hurry to make a connection or just anxious to get off the plane, sitting closer to the front could be considered a big advantage.

4. Both armrests (in theory)

In accordance with widely recognized traveler etiquette, the person in the middle seat deserves access to both armrests. However, not everyone respects this custom.

“It seems like I usually end up hanging out with the person sitting next to me that I don’t know. In fact, I just educated a teenager sitting next to me on my last flight about armrest rules,” says Christina Saull, a Washington, DC-based travel blogger who writes on the My View from the Middle website. Seat.

5. A possible fight with yourself

If you are traveling alone and you suspect your flight won’t be full—for example, if it’s scheduled at an unpopular time, like early morning—then the economists who blog at the Cheap Talk website calculate that you increase your chances of getting a row for yourself by selecting the middle seat.

Here’s how they come to that conclusion: If you select the middle seat on a relatively empty flight, the next person who selects a seat will choose a different row, because they prefer not to sit directly next to someone. If the flight gets full, you might have seatmates, of course. But otherwise it might end enjoying the queue for you.

And as travel blogger Catherine Smith points out, “I love the middle seat…when the aisle and window are empty, too.”

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