Unofficial rules for the plane’s middle seat

Natalie B Compton

The Washington Post – It is a fate you wouldn’t wish upon your enemies. It’s a form of cruel and unusual punishment. It’s a curse that can plague a third of passengers on any given flight.

It’s the middle seat, and, technically speaking, it’s the worst. Airplane seats are already too small, so why would you want one wedged between two strangers? Here are the rules of the middle seat for those who are stuck there.

Rule 1: The middle seat owns both armrests

This rule is so important that it should be engraved onto the doorway of the plane or included in the safety video that plays before take-off that people are definitely watching. Passengers in the surrounding seats must be made aware.

The mandate is this: The middle-seat passenger gets both armrests, period. Offering up both of those tiny little ledges that provide minimal relief are the least that can be done.

Rule 2: The middle seat must not exploit its position by annexing more leg space

Yes, you are jam-packed into your row like a middle pea in the world’s least comfortable pod, but that does not mean you can let your legs flail open, into the limited personal space of neighbours. Respect the invisible boundaries.

Rule 3: The middle seat must not sleep on anyone’s shoulder

Waking up to find yourself snoozing on your plane neighbour might have been cute when you were a kid, but it’s not a good look as an adult. Save yourself the embarrassment of waking up mid-drool by focussing on sleeping upright.

Rule 4: The middle seat must be taken if travelling in a couple

The middle is the worst. We’ve established that. But if you’re travelling as a couple, one of you must claim it. Cursed is the couple who opts to book the aisle and window seat to avoid the centre, leaving a stranger to endure two lovebirds talking and passing things across the row. Someone be an adult and sit in the middle.

Rule 5: The middle seat should at least attempt to time lavatory visits with the aisle seat

This rule pertains to the passenger seated next to the window as well. While the other rules on this list are more stringent and should be treated as law, this one is less a necessity and more of a recommendation for being a good neighbour. If your body allows it, wait until the other passengers in your row get up, for whatever reason, to make your trip to the lavatory. It’s not the end of the world if you have to ask them to get up just for you, but it’s nice to be considerate of timing, particularly if they’re sleeping.