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Delta Air Lines will continue to block their middle seats past September.

Delta Air Lines To Continue Blocking Middle Seats On Flights Past September

Gettyimages | Jozsef Soos
By Yuriy Andriyashchuk

Delta Air Lines has been doing a great job this summer of enforcing social distancing measures on their flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They require that passengers wear face coverings and have been blocking middle seats on their planes. Their goal was to continue to do this through September 30. Now, it appears that they plan to continue to do this past September, according to USA Today.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian made this announcement this week. He also added that travelers have been choosing Delta due to less-crowded flights.

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Passengers continue to choose Delta due to less-crowded flights and middle seats being blocked off.
Gettyimages | Joel Carillet

"When we survey our customers about the reasons you're purchasing a ticket on Delta, the space on board the plane, the blocked middle seats, has gone to the No. 1 reason why customers are choosing Delta,'' said Bastain during Delta's earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts and reporters. They also become the first air line to extend the middle seat rule past September 30. Southwest has theirs until this date and JetBlue will be going up until Labor Day weekend.

Delta's no middle seat rule may be extended through 2021.
Gettyimages | rypson

Other airlines don't feel as strongly about these social distancing measures. One of them is United, who says that social distancing isn't able to happen on planes and that blocking middle seats is a "PR ploy" as opposed to a safety measure.

Bastian and Delta continue to keep their passengers safe, though. He has no official date for when he'd bring back the middle seats but they may extend through early 2021.

"We're gonna hear from customers as to their comfort in travel,'' said Bastain.

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A priority of Bastain's is to add more flights to schedules. This must be done before Delta fills up the "smaller roster" of existing flights.

"I'd rather add more flights back and more seats into the market in a safe way than trying to maximize the number of people you can put on an individual airplane,'' Bastain added.

Bastain also emphasized that this won't continue forever. He explained that in a public health crisis though, that significant amount of space matters to travelers.

Gettyimages | David McNew

Delta took some hard hits financially from April-June due to stay-at-home orders across the country but have been able to save employees' jobs lately. Bastain said that 17,000 employees which is about 20% of the air line's 90,000 employees, accepted early retirement offers and thousands more agreed to voluntary unpaid leave this fall. He also believes that the "worst" is behind Delta despite some decreases in flight booking due to coronavirus surges in some states. Nonetheless, they have been doing a great job to have customers feel much more safe to fly again.

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