Updated: December 9, 2020
Although I haven’t flown since late February, everyone I’ve spoken to and all the stories I’ve read claim that Delta Air Lines, followed by Southwest Airlines, are doing the best job flying during COVID-19. There are a number of reasons why but what’s making them stand out from the rest is that they’re blocking the middle seats.
But these two airlines are not the only ones doing this so I listed the others below with the dates they’ve committed to keeping the middle seat open.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines is blocking middle seats through March 30, 2021.
“Delta will block the selection of middle seats in Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin via the Fly Delta app or online.
“For customers in parties of 1-2: Middle seats will be blocked for safety. For customers in parties of 3 or more: Middle seats will appear as available for booking, to allow families and travel companions to select seats together.
Delta will also make sure that their flights are not filled to capacity. Customers can expect that Delta will:
-limit the number of customers on board all aircraft – with or without middle seats.
-limit the First Class cabin to half capacity to further ensure more space between customers.
-block one aisle of seats on aircraft without middle seats.
-on routes where planes begin to fill, they will continue to look for opportunities to upsize to a larger aircraft type or add more flights.
Alaska Airlines is extending blocking seats through January 6, 2021. However, keep in mind, they do warn: “There can be occasions where extra space cannot be guaranteed due to unforeseen changes such as re-accommodating guests from a previously canceled flight.”
JetBlue is extending its commitment to “seat distancing” for flights through the “holiday season” in rows where parties are not traveling together. According to their website: “We previously announced plans to limit onboard capacity to 70% and no longer guarantee empty middle or adjacent seats for travel from October 15 through December 1. During the busy holiday season, from December 2 through January 7, 2021, we will limit onboard capacity to 85%, but specific seats will no longer be blocked and we will not guarantee empty middle or adjacent seats. Starting January 8, 2021, we’ll make all seats available for sale during the winter period when demand is typically lower and flights are often less full.”
My favorite airline to fly to the islands especially in their lie-flat first class seats is Hawaiian Airlines. They “are currently preventing the booking of middle seats on our aircraft to continue to provide more space for guests and flight attendants through December 15. Depending on load factors, seating may need to be adjusted at the gate to maximize spacing throughout the cabin and meet weight and balance restrictions.”
I know American and United claim that blocking the middle seats don’t prevent passengers from getting COVID-19 and that’s true because if a passenger near you or even passing by has it and they’re not wearing a mask, you can get infected. But by blocking the middle seat, it does reduce the number of passengers on the plane, therefore reducing your chances. It’s also a lot more comfortable to fly with an open seat next to you. No more elbowing for that arm rest.
As you can see, Delta has the most generous policy of the four airlines since they’re blocking middle seats until January 6, 2021. They’re followed by Alaska and JetBlue. Hopefully, the latter two will extend.
If I was going to fly, I would not only choose an airline that’s blocking middle seats but I would also choose a window seat so I’m not near people passing through the aisle or getting stuff from their bags. I would also steer clear of the bathrooms.
Do you have any tips to add for flying during COVID-19? Please leave them below!