Delta Starts Filling Middle Seats Early Over Easter Cancellations

Delta Air Lines has canceled at least 72 flights this Sunday. As a result, the Atlanta-based carrier has temporarily started to fill middle seats to help keep passengers moving this Easter weekend.

Delta 737-800
Delta is temporarily bringing forward the changes to its seat policy. Photo: Getty Images

Busier periods

View from the Wing reports that the issue related to these cancellations appears to be a lack of available pilots. This isn’t the first time that Delta has faced such challenges in recent holiday seasons. In the lead-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, it canceled hundreds of flights.

This was an unprecedented move for a carrier that previously had a strong record when it comes to cancellations. The pilots union then shared that coronavirus was a leading contributing factor to the difficulties heading into the festive season.

Amid the reorganization of services during the current busy period, Delta is lifting its load factor caps for today and tomorrow. Ultimately, it is open to filling every seat, including the middle ones. This move would place passengers that had their flights canceled on aircraft that are still taking off.

Airbus A220, Recovery, Perfect Aircraft
Holiday seasons have proved to be challenging for Delta over the last year. Photo: Getty Images

Ready to unblock

It’s been approximately a year since Delta first decided to block middle seats on its planes. This week, it announced that there will be more available seats for passengers to choose from on May 1st, which in effect means that there will no longer be seat blocking from next month.

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The decision to already start unblocking some seats this weekend may frustrate some travelers who specifically booked a flight knowing that there would be space between them and another passenger. However, the airline highlights that scientific studies show the risk of transmission on a full aircraft with everyone wearing a mask is nearly one in a million. Therefore, as the company looks to have more seats on offer this spring, it affirms that masks will continue to be mandatory and extensive cleaning programs will stay in place.

Delta pilots
Masks will continue to be key in the next chapter. Photo: Getty Images

A word from Delta

Simple Flying reached out to Delta for additional comment on these cancellations. A spokesperson for the airline shared the following:

“Delta teams have been working through various factors, including staffing, large numbers of employee vaccinations and pilots returning to active status. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and the majority have been rebooked for the same travel day.”

On Thursday, April 1st, and Friday, April 2nd, over 1.5 million passengers passed through a TSA screening checkpoint. The latter date had set another pandemic-era record in terms of travelers going through security. Altogether, it has been a busy weekend compared with most of the year amid the downturn caused by the pandemic. Therefore, Delta would be having to think quickly to respond to the challenges.

What are your thoughts about Delta Air Lines’ cancellations over the Easter period? Let us know what your thoughts are on the situation in the comment section.