So why do they exist? Are they a relic of some sort of archaic system when they were necessary? Well, yes. But is that all they could be?
A friend of mine ran an experiment last year, just for fun. He put signs in the elevators at UofT’s biggest library, prompting people to talk. Then he rode the elevator a bunch. And people talked. They seemed to have a good time, too… at least they weren’t standing in uncomfortable silence, right?
Why haven’t airlines with middle seats turned them into something appealing? Windows have a view and an easy-to-nap “corner”; aisles are just plain easier to use and let you feel less guilty if you need to get up.
Middle seats could:
- come with cards prompting discussion with (willing) neighbours
- be given free travel-related sample products to share with one of the people sitting beside them
- be a little bit wider than the other seats next to them, compensating for the squished-ness that might occur
- have their own little on-board chatroom with other middle seaters on the plane, letting them whine about the arsehole sitting next to them — or brag that they’ve been randomly placed next to their favourite hockey player
- come decked out with office supplies they might need to get some work done (branding it as “the business seat”, as opposed to the “nappers’ window” or the “escape artist aisle”) — thanks to @thetiniest for inspiring this one
And that’s just 5 or 6 minutes of highly-distracted brainstorming. I’m sure you can think of better. Let’s hear ‘em in the comments!
My point, though, is that if you’re offering up middle seats, either lose them or use them. Doing otherwise is hurting you in the long run.