There will always be something to complain about when travelling by aeroplane — but we may just be able to take “uncomfortable middle seats” off that list in the near future.
In the push to cram more seats into planes, it can seem a little bit like the world's airlines have totally forgotten about the poor economy class passengers trying to make their way through the world on a budget. And as more and more airlines start charging you extra for prime seat selections, the uncomfortable middle seat is often the cheapest way to go.
Thankfully, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has just approved a new middle seat design that may just make travelling suck a little less - and with any luck the design will start appearing in planes all over the world.
Molon Labe Seating has figured out a way better solution to the middle seat. The idea is actually pretty simple: just stagger the damn seats and make the middle one a little bigger. Seriously. It’s that easy.
In this design, the middle seat is two inches lower and three inches further back than the seats next to it, Wired reports. It’ll also be expanded anywhere from three to five inches in width, which will give the middle seat passenger a little more breathing room. And, yes, even the armrests are staggered—higher in the front and lower in the rear, so there’s a natural divide for all passengers to enjoy a little bit of elbow room.
There is a compromise here. The lower design can impact legroom, so if you’re one of the blessed humans who are able to reach the top shelves of their own cupboards unassisted, your knees might still feel a little cramped. Otherwise, you should be fine.
From the airline’s perspective, the Molon Labe seats are great because they’re some of the lightest in the industry. Made of aluminium and coming in at just under 9kg each, they’re on par with the Recaro SSL3510, which, at 9kg, are reputed to be the lightest in the industry. And that’s even taking into consideration that one of the Molon Labe seats will be way wider than a Recaro.
The FAA approved this design in June 2019 after rigorous testing proved the seats to be solid. Molon Labe has apparently already signed on an unnamed customer from a Western country, founder and CEO Hank Scott told Wired. That customer plans to retrofit 50 aircrafts with these seats in the next eighteen months.
This story first appeared on Jalopnik.It's been updated since its original publication.