Delta Air Lines has raised the bar on inflight social distancing, pledging to block the middle seat through to January 2021. The airline says this is to give confidence to passengers considering winter holidays and has extended its change fee waiver for an additional layer of confidence.
Delta promises social distancing onboard until next year
Flying with or without the middle seat blocked has been one of the most contentious issues to come out of COVID. While some airlines stoically believe there is no mileage in blocking the seat, others believe it is their duty to keep passengers apart in order to restore confidence.
Now, Delta Air Lines has thrown its hat in the ring with a game-changing pledge to block the middle seat for longer than any other carrier has committed. The airline today revealed that it would block the middle seat until January 2021, giving passengers traveling over the festive season confidence that they won’t be packed in like sardines.
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Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Delta Air Lines, explained in a statement why this has been done. He said,
“Medical experts, including our own partners at Emory Healthcare, agree – more distance on board makes a difference. We believe that taking care of our customers and employees and restoring confidence in the safety of air travel is more important right now than filling up every seat on a plane. We’ll continue taking a thoughtful, layered approach ensuring customers know to expect the highest standard of care as they prepare for their holiday travels.”
The airline is hoping that its pledge to keep passengers socially distanced in flight will help it snag the lion’s share of the holiday traffic early on. While other airlines are still figuring out how long they can afford to block the middle seat for, Delta will be piling up the forward bookings.
Blocked until January 6th
Delta says it will block the middle seat in Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin via the Fly Delta app or online. Customers traveling in parties of one or two will not be able to select the middle seat.
However, for those traveling in groups of three or more, the middle seat will show as available to book, so that families and friends can sit together if they wish.
As well as blocking seats, Delta has extended its change fee waiver through to September 30th for any newly purchased flights. This means passengers can book their travel now, and if the situation changes in the coming weeks, they’ll be able to cancel or reschedule without any penalty to pay.
Low capacity flying
Delta further promises not to fill aircraft to capacity, so planes are not overloaded with families making use of the middle seat. The airline says that, for travel through to October 31st at least, it will limit the number of customers booked to fly, whether or not they are using the middle seat in a family group.
It says that, in first class, the cabin will be limited to 50% of capacity to ensure additional space between customers. On aircraft with no middle seats, such as the A220, it will block one aisle of seats for social distancing purposes.
At the moment, Delta is having no trouble maintaining these social distancing promises, as the passenger traffic demand is still low. However, when demand does start to pick up, the airline says it will upsize the aircraft to a larger type or will add more flights on the route.
Do these measures inspire you to fly Delta? Let us know what you think in the comments.