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COVID19: The end of middle seats?

Heard on TV just now, in a conversation about what might be "the new normal" after COVID19...

"This could be the death of the dreaded middle seat in coach on airliners".

Personally, I'm highly skeptical of that ever happening (though if it does, it would be quite a silver lining). I suppose one can dream.

Posted by
3131 posts

I have looked at flights for this week between two domestic locations on Delta and have seen many middle seats empty and I have seen middle seats filled.

Posted by
5019 posts

To clarify: the talking heads were talking about what things might be like after we get past the current physical distancing/shelter-in-place measures, once things begin to start getting to what we can expect as "the new normal". They were speculating that being in tight spaces, routinely cramped up against strangers, was just not something that would be acceptable, from an epidemiological standpoint. Crowding into a bar. Squeezing on to a subway. Wedging yourself into a middle seat in coach for a long flight. These were examples cited of things that would need to end.

It's hard for me to imagine that ever being the norm. Then again, living in a fortress made of toilet paper also seems unbelievable.

Posted by
785 posts

Twenty years ago we would never have dreamed of the things we routinely put up with in travel now (pre-Coronavirus) - airport pat-downs, hours-long security lines, quart baggies of toiletries. Humans have short memories and we love to save a dollar. We'll be packed in planes, trains and buses, probably sooner than we'd imagine. It's not a matter of if, but when.

Posted by
3974 posts

You are as likely to be coughed on from seats behind rather than adjacent so are they proposing that one row in three is occupied too? It’s going to make flights unaffordable for most people, so I can’t see it happening.

Posted by
1906 posts

That would significantly raise the cost of flying.

Posted by
5019 posts

For sure, it would significantly increase the cost of all sorts of things.

What's the cost of another pandemic? Or another 3-month lockdown in this one?

No easy answers.

Posted by
10864 posts

You wold have to count on a 33% increase in the cost of tickets. Not sure how much good it would do. You still have a guy 2" away from you on one side, 18" away from you on the other, two people about 24" behind you and in front of you. Actually if you eliminated everyone within 6 feet you would be paying first class rates.

Posted by
2433 posts

" They were speculating that being in tight spaces, routinely cramped up against strangers, was just not something that would be acceptable, from an epidemiological standpoint."

Perhaps not acceptable from an epidemiological standpoint, but from a practical standpoint likely unavoidable in day to day life outside an active pandemic. Pie in the sky dreams of an ideal world rarely survive when exposed to reality.

Posted by
5019 posts

I don't necessarily disagree. Just passing along what was being floated.

I have to admit, it's nice to dream of a world where there's no middle seat (even knowing that the price of doing that would be yuuuge). And it's refreshing to have the concept of ever-shrinking personal space on an airliner recognized as coming with other (as yet unresolved) costs.

Posted by
6102 posts

I see it as unlikely.

The 18 inches is probably not meaningful, from virus transmission perspective. If it were, why did the 6ft distance become the 'standard'?

Posted by
1500 posts

Actually right now Delta is not seating anyone in the middle seats. But of course that’s easy to do since most of their planes are close to empty

Posted by
6138 posts

Given the trade-offs (in terms of lower costs and per capita emissions), I want middle seats to stay. I have no issue with them.

Posted by
1922 posts

I had a dream. I saw 102 empty seats on our cancelled flight to Maui last month. We had a window seat and aisle seat. The middle rows were mostly empty. When I woke up I thought this was how it was 35-40 years ago. I remember we could move to the empty seats and stretch out. The difference now is COVID-19. I have no idea how this will play out.

Posted by
12 posts

let's suppose if this thing happens how they are going to cover their revenue? by increasing per seat (ticket) price, otherwise, it will affect their revenue.

Posted by
10864 posts

No we will pass laws that make them do it for no cost, require 2 free bags and everyone will get on first.

Posted by
1500 posts

Get ready to pay a LOT more for airline flights.

You want "no middle seat", You want "two free bags" , you want "more space between rows"

You want "cheap airfare"

Umm...... the wants are not compatible.

There's ALWAYS been a way to have all you "wants". IT's called Business Class. Look at the price difference. If that's what you want then that may be what you have to pay. For a lot of us that will mean a lot less travel. If your round trip to Europe goes from $500 to $1500 what's that doing to your travel budget?

James's "law" is a joke. NO we aren't going to pass a law that says you get two free bags LOL! If they do dictate spacing then that might happen, but... see above.

Airlines have actually tried to succeed doing what we claim we want. Years ago American had a "more room in coach" campaign. They removed rows of seats, gave you more room and advertised it. Everyone said to them "oh yes, that's what we want". Then they got online and AA was $20 higher then Delta with "less room in coach". SO they booked Delta... AA gave up, put back the extra seats and lowered fares.

Posted by
3790 posts

I don't think taking out the middle seats would help. When WestJet had confirmation of some people who ended up having Covid were on some of their flights, they were telling people within anywhere from just the exit row to within 4-6 rows to all seats to monitor themselves for symptoms. (link https://blog.westjet.com/operational-updates-coronavirus-covid-19/ )

It'll prob come down to having something showing you aren't at risk, rapid tests at point of departure ( https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/spartan-covid19-test-kit-new-1.5530669 ) or everyone having to use a mask at least - which isn't super feasible since you generally eat and drink on a plane and can't do that thru a mask.

Posted by
454 posts

International First Class style pods for all. Lots of space, and a bed!
Nothing could be better- and that might bring down the pricing of First as it is the only way to fly.
The poor? Let them stay home and eat cake.

Posted by
10864 posts

Yes Carol, it WAS a joke. I thought "everyone gets on first" would give it away ;-)