If there is a single reason to buy airline tickets months in advance, it is that purchasing ahead of time is the only way you can be sure to avoid the 16.5 inch–wide hell that is the middle seat on a plane (unless you’re flying Southwest—then you’re really just on your own). But a new design could finally transform the dreaded middle seat into something that no longer resembles a solitary confinement cell that comes with a crappy bag of mini pretzels.
The Molon Labe Designs Side-Slip seat, which is set back behind the window and aisle seats, claims to alleviate most of the problems faced by middle seaters. Where do your elbows go? No longer a question you need to ask. Tucking the middle seat behind allows every seat to get its own armrests. It also means that any smelly strangers seated at the window won’t be able to fall asleep on your shoulder anymore. One other benefit of the skewed seating arrangement is that the middle seat can be two full inches wider than the seats on either side. Finally, the new design might actually make it easier to get on and off airplanes. With Molon Labe design, the aisle seat slides over and on top of the middle seat, making the aisle twice as wide during boarding. You’ll actually be able to walk right past the obnoxious guy who can’t figure out how overhead bins work instead of waiting behind him for ten minutes. You can see a mock-up of the seat in action below.
Right now, the Side-Slip seat is just a brilliant idea, but Molon Labe designer Hank Scott is working with the National Institute off Aviation Research to get it certified for use on American planes.
Now the question is, once airlines figure out it’s better to sit in the middle, how much will they start charging us for the privilege?