Lufthansa Is Still Quietly Implementing Social Distancing

Lufthansa was one of the first airlines to announce that it was ending its social distancing policy and switching to mandatory masks in late April. However, it seems as though Lufthansa wasn’t telling the full story, as social distancing remains in place on its aircraft.

Lufthansa, Masks, Social Distancing
Lufthansa is still quietly implementing social distancing onboard flights. Photo: Oliver Roesler via Lufthansa

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has suggested that airlines across the world don’t implement social distancing. The policy would have little effect but come at a high cost. Instead, the group indicated that airlines should make wearing masks mandatory, among other things. It seems as though both policies are currently in effect at Lufthansa though.

What’s happening at Lufthansa?

As mentioned, Lufthansa was one of the first airlines to implement a policy of mandatory mask-wearing. The procedure was first adopted back at the end of April. However, since then, the German flag carrier has written the rules into its conditions of carriage. Essentially, by booking a flight with Lufthansa, you agree you will wear a mask.

Lufthansa, Masks, Social Distancing
The airline publicly abandoned social distancing in late April. Photo: Oliver Roesler via Lufthansa

At the same time that Lufthansa brought in mandatory mask-wearing, the airline announced it would end social distancing on flights. At the time the carrier said that it would no longer keep at least one seat free between passengers as a policy “as wearing the mouth-nose cover provides adequate health protection.”

Lufthansa is still social distancing

Despite earlier saying it wouldn’t undertake onboard social distancing, Lufthansa is still quietly implementing a policy. If passengers look at seat maps while booking flights, only seats A, C, D, and F are available for selection on short-haul flights. In researching this story, Simple Flying looked at flights to Bilbao in July, which produced the following results:

Lufthansa, Masks, Social Distancing
Every single middle seat is blocked. Image: Lufthansa app

Now, it’s quite clear that Lufthansa’s July flights to Bilbao aren’t fully booked with middle seat hoggers. A Lufthansa spokesperson confirmed to Simple Flying that the seats are not available to reserve. However, the airline will still sell every seat on an aircraft if the demand exists.

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Lufthansa will then allow these middle seats will be released on higher occupancy flights when it moves to the check-in phase. Essentially, they will only be used as a last resort. However, this does leave one problem. Should a couple choose to reserve seats A and C on a fully booked flight, they could end up being separated by a stranger. In reality, the person in B would likely swap, but there is always the possibility that they don’t.

Passengers will be required to wear face masks on board. Photo: Getty Images

In response to the above issue, a Lufthansa spokesperson said that the airline’s service center was able to allocate the middle seat for travelers flying together. The policy means that, while Lufthansa is not applying social distancing on flights, it is still trying to spread passengers as thinly as possible. Of course, even with the middle seat free, you’re less than a few feet from the person in front and behind.

Do you think Lufthansa is right to block middle seats, or will it cause more issues than it solves? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!