The much-hated economy class middle seat could take on a kinder aspect thanks to an innovative seating design recently approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration.
The S1 Space Seat by Colorado-based Molon Labe Seating sees the middle seat lowered and set back to give occupants more shoulder room, while staggered armrests aim to avoid the inevitable elbow wars.
The company has reportedly struck a deal with an unnamed airline to install the seat in 50 aircraft and is due to start installing the seats in April.
The company says moving back and lowering the middle seat makes it about three inches wider than an 18-inch seat, a width that is often more generous than many found in aircraft these days.
“That little bit of stagger means that every single person gets to spread out a little more,” Molon Labe Seating founder Hank Scott told CNN.
The armrests are also built so they are lower at the back than they are at the front.
This allows the aisle and window passengers to rest their elbows at the front of the armrest leaving space at the back for the middle passenger.
It does this without reducing seat capacity and airline profit margins.
The seat approved by the FAA is only for shorter flights but the company is working on getting long-haul versions certified.
It has also developed something it calls a side-slip seat that slides over the middle seat to widen the aisle while the aircraft is being loaded and unloaded.
However, it decided to concentrate on getting the static S1 seat up and flying before offering the more adventurous side-lip option.
The company claims its S2 long-haul seat will offer the largest entertainment screen available in economy as well as the widest seats.
Other features include a rotating one-sided headrest and seat-pan articulation.
The proof of the pudding, of course, will be in the sitting