Getty Images
Erika Owen
October 27, 2015

Recently, it seems like you can't dig into the Internet world of travel without a "new-and-improved" middle seat design popping up. The seat previously known as a punishment for booking airfare at the last minute has certainly seen some improvements in the following patents—but there are also those designs that put it even further down on the list. Ahead: a brief look at the wonderful world of middle seat design.

Marisa Garcia

Cozy Suite Design by Thompson Aero Seating

We'll kick things off with the positive outlook. This design could actually change the way we think about occupying the middle seat, thanks to its staggered design. No more bumping knees or awkwardly scooting yourself by the aisle seat passenger to visit the bathroom (or stretch your legs). 

Gett Images / iStockphoto

Make the Middle Seat Exclusive

This take by Seattle-based design firm Teague isn't really a design at all, but more so a marketing opportunity. By offering flyers exclusive, middle-seat-only perks, they believe that could not only turn around the unfortunate location's reputation but also bring in more money for airlines. Perks could include exclusive access to pre-release video games, branded swag bags, and special dining opportunities. The real question: What would it take to get you in the middle seat as-is?

Zodiac Aerospace

HD31-3 by Zodiac Aerospace

This beehive-esque concept has flyers facing each other in an effort to save cabin space. The design does include seats that flip up, making it easy to maneuver past fellow passengers, but that's where the pros end. Sure, this concept completely tkes away seat-back screens—one of the only in-flight entertainment options—but it also gives the best (read: worst) view of sleeping neighbors. 

Airbus Patent

Stacked Cabin Design

If you thought facing your fellow flyer was bad, this design has passengers stacked on top of each other, giving a new meaning to "overhead baggage." There's even a secondary design included that turns the cabin into a sleepover of sorts with stacked bunks. 

How to Survive the Middle Seat

All bee-inspired and exclusivity aside, the middle seat probably won't change a lot by the next time you fly. Never fear—we garnered some tips from our own staff to help you make it through your flight comfortably nestled in that middle seat. Ahead: "Claim the armrest" and 10 other tips for surviving the middle seat.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.

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