It is a truth universally acknowledged that middle seats on airplanes are the worst.
Being awkwardly sandwiched in between two people while fighting for elbow room is the bane of most passengers. Now a new design might actually make people want the middle seat — or at least make the flying experience less miserable.
The S1 design from the Colorado-based startup, Molon Labe Seating, features three economy seats in a staggered layout, putting the middle seat slightly behind the aisle and window seats, and at a slightly lower height.
Sitting directly adjacent to two people means that passengers only have so much shoulder room. But moving the middle seat back a few inches allows for more space, so the company made the middle seat about three to five inches wider than the standard 18-inch seat.
“That little bit of stagger means that every single person gets to spread out a little more,” Hank Scott, the founder and CEO of Molon Labe Seating, told CNN.
Passengers won’t have to fight over elbow space either. The armrests are also built so that they are not a uniform height from front to back. They will allow the aisle and window passengers to rest their elbows on the front of the armrest while leaving space at the back, which is lower, for the middle passenger.
“No seats are any smaller, one seat ends up being wider, and we’ve solved the elbow wars,” Scott said.
The seats are intended for shorter, domestic flights, though the company is developing a version for longer flights that include more padding and larger TV screens.
So when can passengers test out these seats for themselves?
The seats were certified by the Federal Aviation Administration last month, and are being manufactured by Primus Aerospace in Colorado. Scott said that he expected they would be available on two airlines by April or May of 2020. Though he could not disclose which airlines would feature the seats, he said one of them is based in North America.
It’s not just passengers who will be happier with the new arrangement, Scott said. The seats are lighter than standard airline seats, which could help cut down on fuel costs.
“For an airline, it’s kind of a no-brainer,” he said.
The S1 seats won’t fix everything about flying — the seats don’t recline or offer any more legroom. And that’s not to mention the food, the chatty passengers, the inefficient boarding and de-boarding processes … and the list goes on.
“It’s still going to suck,” Scott said. “Now it’s going to suck less.”