Do You Really Hate the Middle Seat That Much?

There was an interesting survey that came out earlier this month showing that people hate the middle seat far more than I could ever imagine. While I usually like to blame the surveyor, I think this is a case Survey Says . . .of the respondents not telling the truth.

Let’s start with the responses that make sense. Eighty percent of travelers say they try to avoid the middle seat and only 1% say they prefer it. (Who the heck are those 1%?) But those numbers don’t sound too far off. It also says that 56% would rather be stuck in traffic or go on a blind date. Ok, not so bad. Then it runs into trouble.

Apparently 50% of people would take an aisle seat on the next flight over a middle seat on their current flight. And even more astounding, 20% said they would stay overnight if they could avoid a middle seat on their flight. A full 9% said they would outright refuse a middle seat. Are you freakin’ kidding me?!? I can certainly see a few random big and tall folks being willing to stay overnight, but not 20%. That’s insane.

In this case, the surveyor doesn’t really have a skin in the game. It was put out by 3M Privacy Filters. You know those things – they go over your computer screen so that someone sitting close to you can’t look over your shoulder and see what you’re doing. All they care about is that middle seats exist, because that’s when you really need them. They don’t care if you like them or not.

So I think the respondents here aren’t being truthful. This survey was administered online, and it’s really easy to say you’d wait for the next flight when you’re answering from the comfort of your home. You go find me someone with a middle seat boarding pass waiting to board a flight and then you’ll get dramatically different answers.

In fact, let’s throw a survey out here and see what you guys think. Airline employees shouldn’t answer this one. As a former nonrev pro, I know the correct answer for an airline employee is “I will take absolutely any seat you give me as long as it gets me closer to home.”

Would you walk away from your middle seat and stay overnight in an airport hotel for an aisle seat on the first flight the next morning?

View Results

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(If you can’t see the survey, go directly to the post)

By the way, possibly the most disturbing thing in this survey was that only 6% of people said the middle seat gets both armrests. I imagine this may generate the most discussion down below, but that is the correct answer. If you’re stuck in the middle, you get both armrests. It’s a small consolation, yes, but it’s the least you deserve. Just don’t go trying to raise that armrest . . . .

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