Making the Middle Seats More Appealing

Let’s face it… no one likes getting stuck in the middle seat on a plane. There’s no window to lean against, and you are usually wedged between two strangers you must wrestle with for the coveted armrests. It’s no wonder that middle seats are always the last to be picked.

In a blog posting on hotelsmag.com, Amenity Services Vice President Sherri Scheck-Merrill writes about a new idea to make the middle seat more appealing to passengers. She learned about it at a recent airline show, where attendees were also buzzing about how a growing number of carriers are considering bringing back amenities such as complimentary meals and blankets, and offering workable Wi-Fi.

Location, Location, Location

As in real estate, location is key on airplanes. To compensate customers willing to occupy the middle seats, carriers are considering “selling” them to companies who could brand them with their logos, and/or distribute special gifts or in-air services to passengers seated in them.

No one is currently doing this, but Scheck-Merrill believes the innovative idea could resonate with sponsoring companies who would (literally) have a “captive audience,” as well as passengers who would probably be happy to receive some perks in exchange for being inconvenienced. Instead of the dreaded middle seat being perceived as a punishment, it might actually become desirable.

“I feel the middle seat concept has strong legs for hospitality,” Scheck-Merrill says, pointing out that the concept could be expanded to include hotels. In such a scenario, customers assigned to noisy floors or rooms near the elevator could become eligible for certain benefits from either the hotel or a sponsoring partner.

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