It seems as though LOT Polish Airlines will implement a staggered social distancing policy upon its return to the skies. The plan goes against the recommendation of IATA to mandate face masks instead of social distancing on flights.
Airlines across Europe are looking to return to the skies. Many will return as soon as next week. However, they will all operate a vastly reduced schedule at first, before ramping up flights as demand returns. Of course, all are implementing various new health and safety policies, including mandatory face coverings, although many airlines have shunned social distancing.
LOT’s social distancing policy
LOT Polish Airlines has released a wealth of new restrictions in the wake of the current situation. These include mandatory mask-wearing and limiting onboard interaction. However, the Polish carrier has yet to announce an official policy regarding social distancing.
The airline’s seat maps do appear to tell a tale of social distancing, though. As spotted by the Polish language aviation website Fly4Free, LOT Polish is blocking out half of the seats onboard its aircraft. Rather than implementing a policy where every middle seat is blocked, LOT Polish has staggered obstructed seats.
According to the LOT Polish Airlines booking engine, on four abreast aircraft, each row will have two seats blocked. For example, Seats 1A and 1C will be blocked, then 2B and 2D, then 3A and 3C, etc… This means that only 42 seats are available for sale on an aircraft with a capacity for 84.
Meanwhile, onboard six abreast aircraft, such as the Boeing 737, three of six seats are being blocked in each row. This means that seats, 1A, 1C, and 1E will be blocked, then 2B, 2D, and 2F, etc… As such, on an aircraft with 186 seats, only 93 will be sold.
What does IATA say?
IATA, the International Air Transport Association, has recommended that carriers don’t implement social distancing on flights. It has argued that blocking one seat doesn’t leave 1.5 meters in between passengers and that masks are far more effective. Additionally, face coverings are instead recommended, similar to requirements on most forms of public transport.
According to IATA, carriers in Europe need to fill flights to 79% to break even. With half of the seats blocked, this wouldn’t be possible. As such, the group estimates that average fares will rise by 49% from $135 to $201 to compensate for the loss in revenue.
At the time of writing, Simple Flying had yet to hear back from LOT Polish Airlines regarding the policy. However, in a statement seen by Fly4Free, it seems that the seats have been blocked to stop overbooking in the case that Polish authorities mandate social distancing in the future.
Do you think LOT Polish Airlines is right to implement social distancing on flights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!