You won’t be stuck in the middle seat on Delta anytime soon. The airline announced on Nov. 18 it is extending its policy of keeping middle seats empty until March 30.
Extending middle seat blocks comes with little surprise, as Delta has pioneered cautious practices during the ongoing pandemic.
“Some customers are still learning to deal with this virus and desire extra space for their peace of mind,” said Delta’s chief customer experience officer Bill Lentsch.
Other airlines, most notably United and American, have scrapped middle seat blocks as they continue facing record low fares.
“You can’t be six feet apart on an airplane, middle seat or not,” said United CEO Scott Kirby, at an industry conference this summer. “What makes a plane safe is HEPA air filters recirculating the air every two to three minutes, wearing a mask on board the airplane, and cleaning the airplane.”
Medical and public health experts agree that risks associated with contracting COVID-19 onboard a flight are considerably low. Nevertheless, over a quarter of Americans reported that they did not feel safe flying during the pandemic.
To mitigate risks, United Airlines has agreed to notify customers of when their flights are booked above a 50% capacity, an industry standard for some flights to operate.
Airlines, anxious for travelers, have offered numerous gimmicks in hopes of attracting customers, such as $16 cross country flights, offering rapid coronavirus tests, buying one flight, and getting a seven-week companion pass for free.