Travel: Middle Seat Syndrome

Middle seat syndrome. Budget airlines charge for EVERYTHING, including those prized positions of aisle or window seat (depending on your preference) but there is no man, woman or child on earth who willingly sits in the middle seat. However, if you’re not prepared to pay the extra cost to guarantee aisle or window, you may well end up in the middle. So how do you survive that?

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If your flight is only a couple of hours long, some simple tricks to zone out will make it bearable. However, if you’re in that middle seat for a long haul trip you might need to get ruthless, particularly when it comes to the armrest territory conflict.

1 – Invest in some good quality headphones. A pair that are comfortable and will drown out the cabin noise and the inevitable snoring/sniffing of your seatmates will be vital to your sanity. I love these over ear headphones from Sennheiser. They’re reasonably affordable, super comfy and the sound quality is great.

2- A hoodie or scarf to go over your head. I don’t know about you, but in the middle seat I feel very exposed, and conscious of not dropping off with my mouth wide open. However, with a hood over my head I have a teensy bit more privacy, plus I find that if my seatmate is out of my peripheral vision then they’re out of my mind.

3 – Snacks. For the sake of your fellow passengers, try and make these as inoffensive as possible – no smelly, noisy, squirty ones please, but if you have some snack with you, you can settle down with a movie as soon as the plane takes off and pretend your neighbours don’t exist. I love popping to WH Smith at the airport for a bag of Twirl Bites and a bottle of water.

4 – Have everything you might want in flight with you BEFORE you buckle up. If your little pile/bag of goodies is ready for you under the seat in front before your seat mates arrive then you’ve saved yourselve an awkward clamber over a stranger mid flight for your copy of Grazia.

5 – Focus your mind elsewhere. Even if you’ve got clowns to the left of you and jokers to the right you’re still heading somewhere exciting if you’re on your outbound flight, or you’re heading to the comfort of your own bed if you’re coming home. Focus on what you want to see, do, eat and try not to let the lack of personal space aggravate you. I know I’m guilty of that even on the tube, let alone for a couple of hours on a plane!

6 – Make friends. Even if they’re won’t end up being your bridesmaid, it’ll be worth your while to befriend those around you, but don’t talk their ear off with stories of your awful journey to the airport! Remember, just because after 90 minutes of your elbows touching you can’t stand the sound of their breathing, doesn’t mean they’re not a potentially lovely and interesting person.

All the products mentioned in this post are ones I have bought and used myself. This post was not sponsored and all opinions are my own.

6 thoughts on “Travel: Middle Seat Syndrome

  1. Oh I can totally relate, I’ve always ended up in the middle seat in the last couple flights I’ve taken… Once, I forgot my jumper and I was too scared to wake up the man next to me that was snoring… that was so embarrassing and I was so cold due to the air conditioning… I’m doing everything you said minus making friends, I’ve realized a lot of people are just tired and want to sleep instead of talking 😉

    1. Exactly, it’s so awkward when you’re stuck between people! But if you end up in that position then the only thing to do is learn to deal with it haha!
      I never initiate conversation, but a polite hello breaks a bit of the awkward tension that our thighs will be touching for the next 90 minutes!

  2. Super advice. I love the last tip about making friends. I do that all of the time. And when you are in conversation, the plane ride is brief and discomfort limited. Still don’t like that middle seat, though. Yikes!

    1. I loathe the Middle Seat, but equally I refuse (especially on short haul flights) to pay the extra to pick my seat, so I’m training myself to cope with it!! Long legs don’t help!!

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