In the push to cram more seats into planes, it can seem a little bit like the Federal Aviation Administration has totally forgotten about the poor economy class passengers trying to make their way through the world on a budget. And as more and more airlines start charging you extra for prime seat selections, the uncomfortable middle seat is often the cheapest way to go. Thankfully, the FAA has just approved a new middle seat design that may just make traveling suck a little less, as per Forbes.
Molon Labe Seating has figured out a way better solution to the middle seat. The idea is actually pretty simple: just stagger the damn seats and make the middle one a little bigger.
Seriously. It’s that easy.
In this design, the middle seat is two inches lower and three inches further back than the seats next to it, Wired reports. It’ll also be expanded anywhere from three to five inches in width, which will give the middle seat passenger a little more breathing room. And, yes, even the armrests are staggered—higher in the front and lower in the rear, so there’s a natural divide for all passengers to enjoy a little bit of elbow room.
There is a compromise here. The lower design can impact legroom, so if you’re one of the blessed humans who are able to reach the top shelves of their own cupboards unassisted, your knees might still feel a little cramped. Otherwise, you should be fine.
From the airline’s perspective, the Molon Labe seats are great because they’re some of the lightest in the industry. Made of aluminum and coming in at just under 20 pounds each, they’re on par with the Recaro SSL3510, which, at 19.8 pounds, are reputed to be the lightest in the industry. And that’s even taking into consideration that one of the Molon Labe seats will be way wider than a Recaro.
The FAA approved this design in June after rigorous testing proved the seats to be solid. Molon Labe has apparently already signed on an unnamed customer from a Western country, founder and CEO Hank Scott told Wired. That customer plans to retrofit 50 aircrafts with these seats in the next eighteen months.
There will always be something to complain about when traveling—but we may just be able to take “uncomfortable middle seats” off that list in the near future.