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Soon Flying In The Middle Seat Could Become More Comfortable

By Danielle Dorsey

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Nothing is worse than getting stuck with a middle seat on a long flight. Being sandwiched between two strangers, lack of leg and elbow room, plus discomfort in exiting and returning to your row are just a few of the reasons why passengers take lengths to avoid this seat assignment.

This inconvenience will soon be resolved thanks to a recent approval from the FAA to install a staggered three-seat arrangement called the S1 that would give middle seat passengers more room. An undisclosed airline is expected to install these rows on 50 planes by the end of 2020.

A six-person team at Mobe Labe Seating has been working on the S1 for five years. The new seating arrangement is designed for commuter flights of only a few hours and repositions the middle seat to be a few inches lower than and behind the aisle and window seats. It also widens the seat by about three inches, allowing for passengers to take up more space without compromising the plane’s seating capacity. 

Molon Labe founder Hank Scott gave the Fast Company some insight into the S1 design, saying, “We have discovered that what looks like a small stagger actually makes a huge difference.”

The S1 design couples this staggered seating with a two-level armrest that eliminates the elbow wars that inevitably break out when six arms fight over four armrests. This makes it so that the aisle and window passengers end up using the front ledge of the armrests while the middle passenger uses the rear area.

In addition to the S1, Mobe Labe is currently designing similar S2 and S3 models, which will be used on long-haul flights and are expected to be released in the next few years. If all goes as planned, airline passengers will feel a little more optimistic when booking a middle seat assignment.


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