Anyone who has ever flown knows being stuck in the middle seat is a terrible experience. Seat designers know that; that’s why they’ve been hard at work building an alternative. The S1 airline seat design staggers the seat arrangement, so middle seats are slightly lower sit further back.

The S1 design has been in development since 2014, but last month the FAA approved the design for commercial use. The new design willappear on 50 planes of a U.S. airline by 2020. The new design is meant for commuter flights of only a few hours.

Molon Labe Seats – S1 Design

The middle sea sits just a few inches lower and back than the adjacent seats. That means arms, shoulders, elbows, and thighs all have room to spread. The seat’s designers say you have to sit in the seat with two people on either side to understand the difference. To sell airline executives on the benefits of the new seat design, they did just that.

Molon Labe founder Hank Scott says the main sales tactic for the new seat design is to ship a row of them to airlines. Airline executives are invited to try the seat with two large guys. Scott says they instantly stop being an executive and shift into passenger mode. The staggering effect helps eliminate fights for the armrests.

Future Improvements

Molon Labe didn’t stop with just a staggered seat design, however. The company also worked on a shifting seat technology called “Side-Slip.” The aisle seat can slide over the middle seat during loading for wider aisles. Designs featuring the Side-Slip technology have been crash-tested and survived durability trials. In the end, Side-Slip was made an optional feature.

Scott says it makes sense to upsell the sliding feature once airlines are comfortable with the new seat design. Airlines are so risk-averse that any changes to the design need to be excellent in commercial flights, especially before moving components come into play.

The standard S1 model design has been finalized, so now Molon Labe are looking toward S2 and S3 models. These models are built for longer flights and could change the way international flight middle seats feel. For now, expect to encounter these new seat designs in 2020 for commuter flights.