Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Chooses the Middle Seat?

B 737 of RyanairImage via WikipediaAs I sat in my aisle seat at the gate in Chicago (leg two of my trip to the BlogHer conference) waiting for the seat next to me to be filled, I wondered - does anyone choose the middle seat? I'm an aisle seat person all the way, and I know there are those who prefer the window. But roughly one third of the seats on a 737 are middle seats. Are they simply left for those who waited too long to make reservations? Or those who failed to check in online and secure their seat assignment?

People traveling in pairs, like the young couple on their honeymoon who sat behind me, can certainly account some of those middle seats. There were also a few families with children relegated to the middle seat. But what about the rest of those middle seats?

Could there be a profile of a person who actually prefers the middle seat?

As mentioned, I am an aisle seat lover. That is as much due to the fact that I like to stretch my legs and have easy access to the restrooms, as it is that I like to be the first person out of my seat when the captain turns off the seatbelt sign. Aisle seat lovers are often type A personalities, who like to be in control.

I find that window seat lovers are often sleepers. They're less worried about access to the restroom, or missing the snack cart when it comes around. They wait patiently for their turn to get off the plane. Window seat lovers know that the plane won't get there any faster if they sit near an aisle.

So who, then, is the middle seat lover? Perhaps they are extraverted types who want to be sure that at least one person will talk to them during the trip. Or perhaps, like many managers and middle managers they find themselves stuck – in the middle, that is.

While many employees aspire to the title of manager, few truly understand that the position entails a lot of negotiating between layers; managers need to keep their employees happy and motivated while keeping their bosses satisfied too. It’s a constant juggling act, just like the person in the middle seat is constantly juggling for an armrest. We know why they stay in their jobs, just like we know why the middle seats are rarely empty – they need to get from point A to point B.

Speak up middle seat lovers! Who are you?
Special announcement: When Fridays Were Fridays readers are invited to enter to win a big giveaway at my other sire - Learning to Eat Allergy-Free. Check out how to enter here.

16 comments:

Andorinha said...

I just loved your point. I never thought of that actually. Probably because I'm a aisle seat lover for the simple reason I use the bathroom a lot :) and ok, I'm probably a control freak..

Kenneth H. Lee said...

I prefer the window seat, especially for long haul flights because it makes it easier to sleep. My wife likes the aisle seat because she needs to be able to get up and walk around and get to the important restroom.

Anon_e_mouse said...

Interesting. I don't fly often, and when I do nowadays it's generally on today's version of Trans-Dogpatch - an RJ145 that has one seat on one side and two on the other - so I can usually have an aisle seat and a window seat all at the same time.

Colette said...

Yes, I love those planes with one seat on one side and two on the other. It's the only time I ever pick a window.

Liza said...

Middle Seat? Ugh! I prefer the window...but because I'm a dreamer. I love looking down at the clouds.

Steve in POK said...

Aisle, thank you.
But your blog brings to mind a question - to wit: what is the protocol in the negotiation for arm rest rights if you are in the middle?
Just askin'

Colette said...

Very good question about the armrests. I think everyone has their own rules. When I'm on the aisle I usually let the middle seat person have the armrest on their side. But then when the cart comes through...

One Womans Eye said...

I'm an aisle seat lover myself ...unless I get upgraded to first class...in which case the window is fine....it's all about the leg room for me...
I would never knowingly pick the middle seat....and I wonder about those who would, sort of how I wonder about all these people who wait in the long lines at the toll booth instead of having an E-Z pass

Colette said...

Yes, in first class, any seat is just fine!

Dave E said...

Aisle for the leg/shoulder room (I'm 6' 5" and 'stocky'), window because I love to spend the entire flight with my nose stuck to the window like a big kid, looking out on the world.
Whilst we take flying pretty much for granted these days, it is in fact a rare privilege given to small percentage of all the people that have ever lived. I suspect that once cheap fuel runs out, it will return to being something only the rich can afford.
At that point there will be no cattle class anymore and the middle seat will be long gone.

Jeremy Bates said...

im 6,3 so i can barely fit in the middle! definitely aisle
followed u over from karen's bbq... brought whiskey and steak! enjoy! and great blog--following!

Wendy said...

Totally a window seat girl. Every single time without fail if I have an aisle seat I get my arm smashed by the beverage cart. I get so tired of people walking by brushing against me. I can look out the window and pretend I'm not in a tin can with a gazillion other people who wish they were somewhere else.

KarenG said...

I can't imagine anyone choosing a middle seat but my mom would, for the reason you suggested. She was chatty and liked to talk. My preference is the window seat.

Colette said...

Ha! I knew there must be someone who likes the middle seat!

Liz Fichera said...

I think I would rather be strapped to the wing than get stuck in the middle seat. I'm a window person--let me sleep and read my book and please leave me alone. I could care less about the snack cart. ;-)

Meg at the Members Lounge said...

My husband likes the window, so I used to take the middle. On a recent flight I had the aisle seat and decided I was never ever going to sit in a middle seat ever again. It was heaven.