Delta Extends Seat Blocking Policy Until 2021

Delta Air Lines will continue to block middle seats and limit the number of passengers onboard an aircraft until at least January 6, 2021. According to the airline, it’s about going above and beyond the Center for Disease Control guidelines. Delta wants passengers to travel with confidence. Blocking the middle seats is part of a suite of moves designed to ensure that happens.

“Medical experts agree, more distance onboard makes a difference,” said Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer Bill Lentsch.

“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.

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Delta will keep blocking middle seats until January 6. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Middle seats blocked on Delta to January 6

Delta says passengers traveling solo or with one other person will have a blocked seat next to them. For passengers traveling with two or more other people, the middle seat will be available if preferred. That allows, say, two parents to travel together with their child, or three friends to sit together,

“We’ll continue taking a thoughtful, layered approach ensuring customers know to expect the highest standard of care,” says Mr Lentsch.

Many of Delta’s smaller planes may not have a middle seat. For example, Delta’s fleet of A220-100s features a 2-3 layout in the main cabin. Where this occurs, Delta will limit the number of passengers allowed on the plane.

Up in first class, where the configuration on Delta’s domestic services is usually 2-2, the airline will only fill half the available first class seats. But Delta does say that Delta One cabins on widebodies planes may get filled to capacity. That’s because there’s already a lot of space built in around seats.

If passenger demand increases, Delta says they won’t get tempted to cram more passengers in. Instead, the airline will look at putting bigger planes into service or increasing frequencies.

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Groups of three or more passengers will have the option of traveling together. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Delta has a suite of measures in place to keep flying safe

In addition, Delta Air Lines has put into place several health and safety measures that start when passengers walk in the door at the departure airport and end when leaving the arrivals airport. They range from plexiglass screens at Delta check-in counters, in Delta Sky Clubs, and at gate counters. Check-in areas, self-service kiosks, gate counters, and baggage claim zones see continual cleaned throughout the day.

When boarding, Delta is working from the back of the plane to the front, boarding ten passengers at a time to minimize close contact with other passengers. That plane will get thoroughly sanitized using electrostatic sprayers before you board your flight. In addition, high-grade disinfectant is used by cleaners between flights to wipe down personal and common areas of the cabin.

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Delta aircraft are thoroughly cleaned between flights. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Streamlined inflight services minimize close contact between crew and passengers. The crew gives out sealed snack bags, and the drinks trolley gets wheeled out on flights over 500 miles.

For Delta, it’s about trying to reach a compromise between service and safety. It’s also an ongoing process of trial and error and continuous improvement. Delta’s Bill Lentsch says;

“The (Delta travel) experience is a very comfortable, a very safe experience, we have taken actions, even above and beyond what the CDC has recommended ensuring safety.”


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