The dreaded middle seat on some airplanes may be getting an upgrade with a new FAA-approved design featuring a wider seat and more elbow room.
The S1 Space Seat design, developed by Molon Labe Seating in Lakewood, Colorado, places the middle seat a few inches lower and slightly behind the aisle and window seats. This arrangement increases the width of the middle seat by about three inches.
"We were just trying to make it a bit less miserable," CEO of Molon Labe Seating Hank Scott said. "We chose the middle seat because no one loves the middle seat."
Each seat is equipped with a smartphone and tablet holder, USB port and latchless table. The seats also allow for more elbow room because the armrests are designed so that the middle passenger uses the back end of the armrest while the aisle and window passengers use the front end.
"We have solved the elbow wars," Scott said.
Designed for short-haul, low cost airlines, Molon Labe says one airline has already placed a "big order," and is in negotiations with two others -- one airline in North America and another based in Asia.
The seats were approved by the FAA last month, according to an FAA spokesperson, but the FAA will later have to sign off on how each carrier incorporates them into its cabin configurations.
The company's original idea was to create a "side-slip" seat that allows the aisle seat to slide over the middle seat during boarding to provide more room and speed up the process.
According to Molon Labe, the minimum aisle regulation width is 20 inches, but the "side-slip" design opens the aisle width to 42 inches while passengers load and unload the plane. The "side-slip" is an optional add-on to the S1 design.
Molon Labe is also developing other seat designs that will have a wider middle seat and be better equipped for longer flights.