So whenever I'm on planes I play roulette with who is going to sit beside me. It used to be that it was unusual if the middle seat wasn't empty. Back in the good old days there were a lot more flights, and they didn't get full. Now they've cut back enough that every plane is oversold, and therefore completely packed.
So, I end up playing "who will sit next to me" roulette. I am one of the first people on a plane, having status. So that lets me make sure I have space to put my bag in the overhead and get settled in my seat. Then, as I sit there I watch all the people coming on the plane. Since I now know that the odds of having an empty middle seat are close to zero, I hope for a "small person". I don't care if the person is male or female, tall or short, but what I do care about is width. I want someone without wide shoulders, and especially without a wide middle. Bottom line, I want space so I don't feel like I have to lean away from them.
As people walk onto the plane, I'm watching them and in my head saying, "no, no, please God no, liveable, no, yes - bummer, no, no, no, liveable, liveable, no". You get the picture. Clearly, I have no real choice in the matter, but it's my little game I play in my head and it makes me feel like I have some bit of control.
Today, I got liveable twice in a row for each of my flights. I'll take it. So as you walk on planes, watch the people watching you and see if they're mouthing anything to themselves. Hopefully you get a yes when they look at you...