The empty seat

So you have boarded the plane, tucked your bag under the seat in front and are sitting, waiting patiently for the plane to fill. As you are sitting in the middle seat (why do they use that configuration of 3 – 3?) you are obviously a bit concerned about who will end up in that window seat next to you. Why did I choose the middle seat??? Oh well that is another story to tell which might affect my marital relations so I will keep quiet for the time being.

I scan each person as they shuffle down the aisle – the tall skinny guy with the torn jeans – I can just imagine pointy knees intruding into my space as he does his “man spread” thing. How about the short older lady – she would be ok – as long as she doesn’t try and tie me down in a long conversation about her cat/grandchildren/knitting.

Before I know it, the flight attendant is closing the door. Everyone has boarded and we are starting on our way. I look down at the empty seat next to me. YES! Was this because I gave $5 for my poppy instead of a loonie? Or maybe it is because I let that person go in front of me at Safeway because they only had a couple of things and I had a whole basket. Or maybe it’s because I helped that lady with the latest restrictions to travel to the US even though she didn’t book with us. My random acts of kindness have resulted in this INCREDIBLE gift.

I carefully slide over to the window seat, putting my shawl on my now empty horrible crappy hateful middle seat. I fasten my seat belt with a smug smile. Yep, the airplane gods were looking down on me today. Once the aircraft takes off I loosen my seat belt, lift up the arm rest next to me and scooch around so I am curled up sideways with my knees resting on the spare seat. Actually it’s a bit uncomfortable but dammit I am going to use every last inch of space at my disposal, if it kills me.

I am in airplane heaven … two tray tables … I don’t even know which one to use … but WAIT …. there are rules about this. Did you know? Apparently, if there is an empty middle seat between you on the window and the person on the aisle then there are rules about how that space should be shared. Now strictly speaking, in this case, the person on the aisle cannot use the middle seat – because that is my seat. The window seat is the empty one and the aisle seat person cannot share that. In any event, the person sitting on the aisle seat just happens to be my husband – he wouldn’t dare!!!

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. Good karma follows you. We’ve found that the most comfortable situation for this old married couple are aisles across. We each need our space(s).


  2. Oh I enjoyed this one Lesley. Yes…. my husband and ( do the same seat arrangement as you. Then we sis there holding our breaths as the passengers come down the aisle. Like you said “Airplane Heaven”. when we realize we have that extra (or I have that extra seat).ha!


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