By Kelly Yamanouchi
Delta Air Lines is extending its middle seat blocking policy for another month, through April 30, amid continued travel concerns during the pandemic.
Atlanta-based Delta, the only U.S. airline with such a seat blocking policy to limit capacity on all flights, had previously had the limits in place through March 30.
The airline says its customers feel the extra space “provides more peace of mind,” according to chief customer experience officer Bill Lentsch. The company hopes the strategy will help it gain customers, particularly for spring travel.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control continues to recommend people avoid travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying cases are “extremely high.”
“Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. CDC recommends that you do not travel at this time. Delay travel and stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19,” the CDC says on its website.
While Delta is blocking middle seats, that doesn’t necessarily mean all passengers will have an empty seat next to them.
That’s partly because not all airplanes have middle seats. On planes without middle seats, such as Delta Connection regional jets that have two seats on each side of the aisle, the airline will block aisle seats on one side of the plane. And in business class on widebody jets, which have more spacious seating configurations, Delta does not have capacity limits.
Those booking flights can see blocked seats on seat maps on Delta’s website and app. “Check the seat map as the seat adjacent to yours may be occupied,” Delta says on its website.
Travelers may also see people sitting next to each other because families and others traveling together can book a middle seat to sit with each other.
Delta started blocking middle seats last April and has extended the policy multiple times since then.
“We’ll continue to reassess seat blocking in relation to case transmission and vaccination rates,” Lentsch said in a written statement.