Can Airlines Ban Seats in the Middle?
As the coronavirus pandemic spread, many airlines began blocking middle seats to help customers socially distance themselves. The strategy of blocking middle seats is probably the most contentious of all the COVID-era strategies that we've seen airlines implement. Although getting more space benefits passenger comfort, different airlines have different opinions on the importance of such a policy.
With the number of passengers every day approaching one million, it's more important than ever to know which airlines have policies you're happy with. We rounded up all the airlines that blocked seats to keep you aware — and we've modified this list since most airlines have phased out these policies.
If space is valuable to you, one American airline still offers it—but only for a limited time.
In the gate area and as passengers board its planes, American says it encourages physical separation.
JetBlue passengers can book an empty seat for the same price as their current seat if they want to be completely confident there will be an empty seat next to them. This means they will pay twice the cost of their seat to guarantee an empty one next to them.
Southwest has stated that it would make it easier for passengers who are booked on overbooked flights on rebook to another flight, although it is unclear how this will be accomplished—Southwest, like the other major carriers, currently does not charge a change fee.
Although United does not guarantee that middle seats will be blocked, the airline stated that if a regularly scheduled flight is expected to be reasonably complete,Passengers will be contacted approximately 24 hours prior to departure to ask whether they want to continue their travel arrangements or cancel their flight without paying a change fee. In an attempt to minimise crowding, the carrier is also deplaning five rows at a time.
NOTE: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines all have mandatory mask policies in place with strict compliance guidelines.
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