In the competition for US customers’ trusting airlines with their health, JetBlue is taking the lead in the social-distancing race. The New York-based low-cost carrier announced today that it would be blocking the middle seat on its flights until at least October 15th.
Blocking through mid-October
As part of its “Safety from the Ground Up” program, JetBlue has announced it will keep blocking the middle seat in rows where parties are not traveling together. The airline had previously committed to keeping the middle seat empty on its Airbus jets through mid-September. Now, it says measures will stay in place until October 15th. On smaller Embraer 190 aircraft, most aisle seats will be blocked instead.
To promote physical distancing, we’re blocking middle seats thru 10/15 on our larger planes (and most aisle seats on our smaller planes), except for those traveling together. Learn more: https://t.co/b85FfIoJsW pic.twitter.com/FtZqM5PZGJ
— JetBlue (@JetBlue) August 5, 2020
JetBlue was the first US airline to require customers to wear face coverings during the entire journey. As the second airline to do so, starting August 10th, it is also banning face masks with vents or exhalation valves. Furthermore, no passengers will any longer be exempt from the wearing of face coverings while on board one of JetBlue’s flights.
“The simple act of wearing a proper face covering is one way we can all help ensure the safety of all JetBlue crewmembers and customers,” said JetBlue president and COO Joanna Geraghty in a statement seen by Simple Flying.
“Our terminals and airplanes are a shared space, and every customer must wear a proper face covering or will need to delay their travel on JetBlue until face coverings are no longer required,” she continued.
A wing up on the competition
JetBlue is betting on that passenger concern for the close proximity to other travelers will be a deciding factor when choosing airlines in the following months. In addition, it is also extending the waiving of change and cancellation fees for new booking through October 15th as well.
“We continue to hear from our customers that added space onboard and travel flexibility are incredibly important to them during this time and we want them to know we are listening because we are all in this together,” Ms Geraghty further stated.
JetBlue and Delta nose to nose
This new announcement puts JetBlue a step ahead of Delta Air Lines in the social distancing game. Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian has said that he thinks the airline could potentially extend its seat-blocking and load-capping policies. However, thus far, the carrier states they will be in place until September 30th.
Coincidentally, Delta Air Lines was the first US carrier to ban face masks with exhaust valves. It would seem the two compatriot carriers will take turns in demonstrating their commitment to the curbing of the spread of the virus. Other US carriers, such as American and United, while strict on the face maks requirements, have long since abandoned any attempts at social distancing on their aircraft.
JetBlue has also recently announced that it is partnering with Honeywell to pilot the company’s UV cabin cleaning system. Thus far, it has taken ten units, which it operates on aircraft at New York’s JFK and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Is the blocking of the middle seat important to you when choosing which airline to fly with? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.