Struggling for space, view in the middle seat
T he only thing worse than getting the middle seat in a plane is sitting there on a long flight. That’s what befell John Odhiambo last week as he travelled to South Africa to attend a corporate conference. Odhiambo, a first-time flier, was unable to find the coveted window seat, dooming him to the centre in a four-hour economy class flight.
He sat between married couples, who seemed to be frequent passengers. The economy class typically only has 31-34 inches between each row of seats, placing leg room at a premium. Odhiambo, who had carried his backpack, rested it next to his feet, making for awkward sitting.
To make matters worse, his neighbours’ knees kept knocking against his. Moreover, they had leaned on the armrests, depriving him the chance to rest his own arms.
The man on his right kept engaging him in conversations he did not fancy. Odhiambo decided to ignore the man, but his efforts were futile.
Studies show that diverting your focus away from your discomfort can be your best defence against the travails of flying in the middle seat.
When travelling on long flights, the planes you board will always have TV monitors in their seat backs. Watch a movie, comedy or football.
If you want to deter a chatty neighbour, engrossing yourself in a book or listening to music can spare you from unwanted conversation.
According to travel experts, as far as airline etiquette is concerned, you are entitled to both armrests as the middle seat passenger.
Consider checking in your luggage if stuck in the middle seat. If you still have a bag, stuff it under the seat in front of you, and redistribute as many of its contents as possible to the luggage checked in.