The middle seat has long been the scourge of air travelers. While there aren’t really any good seats on a plane, the middle is the choice of last resort. The window seat comes with a view, and the aisle provides a quick escape route, while the middle seat offers neither — and feels even more cramped and crowded because of the presence of passengers on either side. Thanks to a revolutionary new design concept, however, the middle seat could one day turn into the most coveted spot on the flight.
It’s called the Side-Slip seat, and one of the upsides of the design is that passengers “stuck” in the middle row get seats that are two inches wider — 20 inches, versus 18 inches of width apiece for window and aisle seats. The middle seats in the Side-Slip design also come with their own dedicated armrests, so there’s no need to battle it out with neighboring travelers for elbow space.
The design allows the aisle seat to “slip” sideways over the middle seat, making the aisle considerably larger—with room enough for a wheelchair or two people side by side. With more space in the aisle, boarding and disembarking times could be cut up to 33 percent, since that excruciatingly slow guy playing Tetris in the overhead compartments wouldn’t hold up the entire line. If you’re having trouble picturing how the seats work, this video released by Molon Labe demonstrates:
For low-cost airlines specializing in short flights with swift turnaround, this could save serious money and help stave off already-high consumer aggravation. According to Airlines for America, a trade organization, every minute wasted on the runway costs airlines $81.18, which goes up to about $100 when margin is included. As any traveler knows, those minutes add up fast, and for an airline with 1,000 daily turnarounds, that could be up to $245 million in savings yearly.
As things stand now, the Side-Slip is just an idea from a small Coloradan design firm, unlikely to ever see the inside of an actual airliner. But if Molon Labe Designs can somehow solve the issues of testing and affordable implementation, airline passengers might one day stop dreading the middle seat.