Update 2/10/2021: Delta Airlines announced that it will continue to block middle seats on all flights until, at least, April 30, 2021.
"We want our customers to have complete confidence when traveling with Delta, and they continue to tell us that more space provides more peace of mind,” Bill Lentsch, Delta's chief customer experience officer, said in a statement. “We’ll continue to reassess seat blocking in relation to case transmission and vaccination rates, while bringing back products and services in ways that instill trust in the health and safety of everyone on board.”
Although several U.S. companies implemented similar practices in the past few months, Delta is the only one that is still blocking middle seats today—one of of many other COVID-19-adjacent policies in place, including no-fee re-bookings through 2022 and at-home testing options.
Update 11/19: Delta Airlines announced that it will continue to block middle seats until, at least, March 30, 2021.
"Several independent studies have validated the effectiveness of the Delta CareStandard’s multi-layered protection, like advanced ventilation and an extensive cleaning regimen, which together significantly reduce the risk of flight-related transmission," Delta's Chief Customer Experience Officer, Bill Lentsch, said in an official press release yesterday. "However, we recognize some customers are still learning to live with this virus and desire extra space for their peace of mind. We are listening and will always take the appropriate steps to ensure our customers have complete confidence in their travel with us."
Other COVID-19-related guidelines will be kept in place as well, including pre-flight cleaning and disinfecting routines and mask wearing policies. Passengers refusing to comply with the latter requirement will still be placed on no-fly lists.
Delta is doubling down on its response to the global pandemic. The airline announced that it will continue to block middle seats through, at least, January 6, 2021 and limit the amount of passengers allowed on board of each flight until October 31 of this year.
"Medical experts, including our own partners at Emory Healthcare, agree—more distance on board makes a difference," said Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer, in an official statement. "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."
If traveling as a pair, you won't be able to reserve two seats next to each other. Parties of three or more, on the other hand, will have the option to reserve middle chairs "to allow families and travel companions to select seats together."
In addition to its commitment to maximizing social distancing efforts on board, the carrier has announced that it will double its pre-flight cleaning staff. According to Reuters, eight crew members will clean each craft between trips—an increase from the three-to-five that the company usually employees.
Special attention will be paid to high-touch surfaces like bathroom door handles and tray tables, which will be sprayed with disinfectant and checked over by flight attendants. If not up to par with standards, the cleaning staff will be asked to step back on board to re-sanitize the area. Talk about being super careful.
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