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Delta plans to block middle seats through April to give passengers 'complete confidence'


Delta Air Lines announced Monday it would extend its commitment to blocking middle seats on flights through April.


Several U.S. airlines blocked seats for a while in the name of social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic; however, all but Delta have since abandoned the practice. Southwest, JetBlue and Hawaiian ditched the practice in December, and Alaska's seat-blocking policy expired for those in the main cabin in January.


Delta extended its policy by one month to block middle seats and limit capacity on all flights through April 30, which includes the busy spring break travel period and Easter.


"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.”


United execs have called seat blocking a PR stunt, and the airline industry has touted the safety of flying regardless of seating limits.


"U.S. airlines have implemented multiple layers of measures aimed at preventing virus transmission on board the aircraft, including strict face-covering requirements, enhanced disinfection protocols and hospital-grade ventilation systems,'' Katherine Estep, a spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the U.S. airline industry's trade group, said in an earlier statement. "We remain confident that this layered approach significantly reduces risk and are encouraged that science continues to confirm there is a very low risk of virus transmission on board aircraft."


Some airlines will let passengers know whether their flight is going to be full and will offer rebooking options.


Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said recently that few passengers have taken the airline up on those offers.


S: USA Today



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