American Airlines is making headlines this week after it announced that it will be joining United “in filling flights to capacity as the number of travelers choosing to fly continues to rise.” Middle seats, in other words, will not be kept open.
In reality, neither AA or United ever really blocked middle seats. Flight loads were so low that both airlines could just say that they did. When the airlines started reducing flight schedules and passengers slowly began to creep back, they then only prevented some passengers from being assigned seats in advance. And even then, if a plane was full, they would assign seats at the gate. I had multiple friends fly on full American and United flights.
American and United aren’t alone in selling all their seats. Canada’s two largest airlines, Air Canada and WestJet, for example, have each said they will start filling their planes to capacity on July 1. Obviously, flying on a plane with an empty seat next to you won’t prevent you from getting COVID-19, but it will reduce the chances and make your flight a lot more enjoyable. I’m still not comfortable traveling, but if I were, I would be booking a ticket with one of the four airlines below because they are blocking middle seats:
- Alaska Airlines: “Through July 31, 2020, we are blocking middle seats and flights will be capped at 65% capacity to allow for extra space between guests not traveling together.” (source)
- Delta Air Lines: “Through Sept. 30, all middle seats will continue to be shown as unavailable or not assignable when selecting seats via the Fly Delta app or online. We’ll also continue to block the selection of some aisle seats in aircraft with 2×2 seating configurations.” (source)
- JetBlue: Through July 6, “middle seats will be blocked on its Airbus aircraft, and on its smaller Embraer 190 aircraft, JetBlue will block aisle seats. The airline does allow customers traveling together to sit in middle and aisle seats.” (source)
- Southwest Airlines: “Middle seats open through at least September 30 to provide Customers more personal space onboard. Customers can pick their seat—if you’re traveling together, you’re welcome to sit together.” (source)
As you can see, JetBlue’s policy of blocking middle seats is set to expire on July 6. So unless you’re flying JetBlue next week, you’ll want to avoid it as well if you’re looking for extra space (though JetBlue does have the most legroom in economy).
And don’t forget: Wear a mask! More on that:
- Airlines May Now Ban You for Not Wearing a Face Mask
- Wearing a Face Mask Can Reduce Coronavirus Transmission by Up to 75%
- How to Keep Your Glasses From Fogging up While Wearing a Face Mask
- 3 More Ways to Keep Your Glasses From Fogging Up While Wearing a Face Mask
- The Face Mask Travelers Already Have at Home
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I applaud Delta for their policy! I also am very skeptical they will make it to September 30 before scrapping it. Hopefully they will surprise me.