For some people, the middle seat isn’t a curse to avoid, but a perk to covet. If you are someone who usually dreads the middle seat, here are five reasons you might want to consider giving it a chance:
More networking opportunities
Carolyn Clancy, an executive vice president at Fidelity, found a new job because she sat in a middle seat back in 1999. After striking up a conversation with the person seated next to her, she ended up exchanging business cards and interviewing for a job at Fidelity, where she remains to this day.
A middle seat offers a prime opportunity for unexpected connections. Race car driver Kenny Wallace said he often opts for the middle seat as a way of paying it forward. “I choose the middle seat sometimes to help people under stress,” he said. Occasionally, his willingness has led to tangible benefits, such as one time last summer when he received free beer from a grateful passenger.
A faster exit
If you don’t have assigned seating and can take your pick, often middle seats are the last to fill up — which means if you want to sit near the front of the plane, your best chance of finding an available seat is often choosing a middle one. If you know you will be rushing to make a connection or just eager to get off the plane, sitting closer to the front could be considered a major plus.
Both armrests (in theory)
According to widely acknowledged traveler etiquette, the person occupying the middle seat deserves access to both armrests. However, not everyone respects this custom. “It seems I usually end up sharing with the person sitting next to me that I don’t know,” lamented Christina Saull, a travel blogger based in Washington, D.C., who writes at the aptly named website, My View from the Middle Seat.
A possible row to yourself
If you are traveling solo and you suspect that your flight will not be a full one — for example, if it’s scheduled at an unpopular time such as early in the morning — then the economists who blog at the website Cheap Talk have calculated that you increase your chances of getting a row to yourself by selecting the middle seat. No guarantees, however.