Could this be the end of the middle seat?

Airlines are now offering flights with the middle seat unoccupied so as to try and maintain some kind of social distancing. It isn’t really far enough apart to constitute the 6 feet needed but better than nothing. In fact for those of us who have flown in crowded planes squashed in the middle seat it is a real bonus.

But will this continue? Is this how things are going to be from now on, forever and ever, happily ever after? I don’t think so. There are a few problems with this scenario and the most obvious is that there is no way they can get enough people on board a plane leaving the middle seat vacant and still be able to cover the costs of the flight.

So for the time being there are flights happening around the world but very limited – some only domestic and a few international. If you are curious this is the listing as of yesterday

When we get back to “normal” whatever that is going to look like – there will no doubt be changes to airline travel but those changes are going to have to be in keeping with the economic needs of the airlines and the passengers. As nice as it would be to never have a middle seat on a flight again I doubt this will happen.

So what changes can the airlines make? Well there will probably be lots of health checks both at check in and on the flight. Pity the poor soul with a genuine case of allergies or a tickle in the back of the throat. They might find themselves deplaned. There will be lots of masks – we have seen that already – and lots of wiping down with sanitizer. How many times have you seen the person next to you wiping down the tray table and armrests. Yep – they are smart people. I have a whole bunch of unused sanitized wipes in my travel bag – I will definitely be using them next time.

There is talk that airlines will change the seating – at least maybe with new aircraft. Talk of perspex divisions between seats. That would be a good idea – and another area to wipe down at the beginning of a flight. And also maybe a change of the configuration – one such suggestion like this

And this one

Don’t touch that arm rest !!!

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. I’m guessing there isn’t much purpose in creating that slight distance in proximity if the air in the pressurized cabin is continually recycled.


    1. Hi Simone, well interestingly I found an article on CNN Travel that addresses that issue –

      Modern planes are equipped with special filters, called HEPA, whose efficiency is similar to those used in operating rooms in hospitals. The air inside the cabin is an even mixture of recirculated and fresh air from outside.
      “Although passenger density is very high, air from the ventilation system is very clean, because HEPA filters can block particles with a diameter of 0.3 micron or larger, with an efficiency of 99% or higher,” says Qingyan Chen, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana who has researched the spread of air particles in passenger vehicles and how to track them.
      However, Chen argues, that doesn’t mean that all the air inside the cabin is clean, because a person sneezing, coughing, talking or breathing emits droplets that could be transmitted to nearby passengers before the HEPA filter has a chance to catch them.

      So if we all wore masks then that would be safer?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It could be. I can’t imagine it would hurt, especially if—as you said—everything within touch was sanitized with ammonia wipes for 70 seconds every 3-4 hours. (That’s the advice from a sterile processor who works at Foothills hospital.)


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