Middle seats on airplanes truly suck – how do you survive middle seat woes?

Okay…so really is there anything worse than being relegated to the middle seat? Squashed in between people, with no space to move, stretch out or even think/breathe/relax.

You’re not alone – studies have found out that there are a lot of “would rather do’s” than be subjected to sitting in a middle seat.  In fact the extent of the hatred towards the middle seat is pretty impressive:
– 56% of people would rather be stuck in traffic than sit in a middle seat
– 56% of people would rather go on a blind date than sit in a middle seat
– 54% of people would rather go to the dentist than sit in a middle seat
– 20% of people would rather stay overnight at an airport hotel for an aisle seat on the first flight the next morning rather than sit in a middle seat
– 50% of people would rather take an aisle seat being offered on the next available flight rather than sit in a middle seat

So…clearly middle seat woes are real, and not going anywhere. Is there anything you can do to help survive the middle seat or avoid it altogether?


  • Buy your way out – most airlines will offer the option to buy your preferred seat; so take this option when booking to guarantee yourself the seat you want.
  • Timing is everything – The earlier you book, the earlier you have access to choosing/buying a seat and therefore the more likely you won’t be stuck in the dreaded middle.
  • Earn your way out – As frequent flyers you get some great perks, one of them being that you can unlock access to better seats for free. So use your status to avoid the middle, or to get yourself upgraded if you have been put in the middle.
  • Choose optimal flights – Avoid flying at peak times and purchasing basic fares; sometimes it can be hard to know how flexible your ticket is, so always check if you get seat choice.


  • Middle rows are your ally – A 2-3-2 combination beats a 3-3, so get to know your planes quickly and if you’re frequently flying and booking last minute, opt for 2-3-2 aircrafts. Having two options to access the aisle is better than one.
  • Take armrest priority – When it comes to the armrest, you have full priority over positioning on both sides…so make sure to assert your authority and take either the back or the front portion of both and let your fellow passengers have a small space for their arm.
  • Be opportunistic with standing breaks – Time your breaks logically, and get up before the person in the aisle has had their meal or is settling in to watch their movie. Also, don’t forget about the person in the window seat – it could be good to get up and wander or go to the bathroom when they do, so that they don’t then have to disturb you later on.
  • Accept and enjoy – Sometimes it is easier to accept the pain of the middle seat and move on. If you are 100% going to have to be in the seat for a full flight, then accepting it and saying to yourself it won’t ruin your flight is a good way to take out the stress. Stewing in your seat will just make your journey even more uncomfortable.


If you hate the middle seat, as much as we do, then sign up to Ahoy. Where seating preference is stored and added to every booking.