Would You Buy A Half-Seat On A Plane?

Not getting enough room on your flight? How about buying another half-seat?

This is the suggestion of Michael Batt, founder and chairman of Travel Leaders Group, which owns 6,000 travel agencies. He was speaking at this week’s Global Business Travel Association meeting in San Diego.

The idea is that since middle seats are often left untaken, the aisle and window passengers could pay 50 percent of a full fare for the privilege of sharing it. This would generate income for the airlines without the expense of serving anybody or hauling any extra weight. Batt claims that passengers would love it.

So would I love buying a half-seat on a plane? Hell no, and here’s why.
First off, it’s encouraging a greater level of greediness and shabby service in an industry already famed for its greediness and shabby service. I mean, if nobody bought the seat next to me, that’s the airline’s problem and my good luck. If empty seats are now for sale, that means I can’t use them unless I’ve paid for them. Say goodbye to those wonderful international flights where you’re lucky enough to stretch out on a few seats and catch some Zs. Now you’ll have to pay for each seat to do that.

Also, it’s unworkable. Are the airlines going to draw lines at the center point of their seats? They’ll have to, otherwise the cabin crew will be dealing with all sorts of petty territorial fights between passengers shouting “He’s taking up my side of the seat!” like children in the back of a car on a long, hot family road trip. I’m not going to fork over a bunch of money for an extra half-seat only to find someone’s love handles oozing into it, or someone’s darling little bawling baby suddenly taking up residence in my elbow room.

No. I’m paying for a trip, not a few inches of extra butt room. If I want luxury, I’ll pay for business or first class. Otherwise the airlines should concentrate on getting me and my luggage where I’m going.