This new airplane design could end middle seat misery

Few fliers opt for the middle seat when booking airfare.

But when all the windows and aisles are taken, there's no choice but to grin and bear the increasingly cramped conditions. 

Now, an interior airplane cabin design recently approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) may take some of the misery out of the dreaded middle seat-- and speed up the boarding process for all passengers.


Molon Labe Seating, a Colorado-based design firm, says it’s come up with a way to offer middle-seat passengers more room, and give all passengers in the same row a bit more wiggle room. It’s all part of the company’s “Side-Slip” model, which increases the width of the aisle from the usual 20 inches to 42. The aisle seat can be slid across the middle seat in order to make the aisle wider for boarding, before being readjusted prior to takeoff.

The middle seat in the new design is 21 inches – a full three inches wider than the window and aisle seats. It will also sit a little lower and further back, thus reducing the likelihood of shoulder-to-shoulder contact between passengers seated in the same row. Plus, there are staggered armrests made to share.

“Every time someone sees the design they get this ‘ah-ha’ moment,” Molon Labe Designs CEO Hank Scott told Travel + Leisure.

“Sometimes it’s the wider aisle, sometimes it the extra lateral space they feel when they sit in the staggered design. Of course, every time we fly we also get reminded how necessary this design is ourselves.”


Molon Labe first announced the seating concept in 2015 but the company has been working on improving the design in the past two years. The company recently concluded a series of safety standards tests required for approval by the FAA. That includes passing 16G and 14G force as well as Head Impact Criteria (HIC) tests.

Now Molon Labe just has to convince an airline manufacturer to purchase the seats.