Updated: September 30, 2020
Although I haven’t flown since late February, everyone I’ve spoken to and all the stories I’ve read claim that Delta Air Lines, followed by Southwest Airlines, are doing the best job flying during COVID-19. There are a number of reasons why but what’s making them stand out from the rest is that they’re blocking the middle seats.

But these two airlines are not the only ones doing this so I listed the others below with the dates they’ve committed to keeping the middle seat open.

Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines is blocking middle seats through January 6, 2021. But their CEO Ed Bastian said last week “he expects the company will allow passengers to sit in middle seats in the first half of 2021.”

“Delta will block the selection of middle seats in Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin via the Fly Delta app or online.

“For customers in parties of 1-2: Middle seats will be blocked for safety. For customers in parties of 3 or more: Middle seats will appear as available for booking, to allow families and travel companions to select seats together.

Delta will also make sure that their flights are not filled to capacity. Customers can expect that Delta will:
-limit the number of customers on board all aircraft – with or without middle seats.
-limit the First Class cabin to half capacity to further ensure more space between customers.
-block one aisle of seats on aircraft without middle seats.
-on routes where planes begin to fill, they will continue to look for opportunities to upsize to a larger aircraft type or add more flights.

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines (SWA) is doing the second best job and that’s because they’re keeping middle seats open through November 30. “Customers can pick their seat—if you’re traveling together, you’re welcome to sit together.” But SWA announced they will start opening the middle seats on December 1.

Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines has just extended blocking seats through January 6, 2021 (it was November 30, 2020). However, keep in mind, they do warn: “There can be occasions where extra space cannot be guaranteed due to unforeseen changes such as re-accommodating guests from a previously canceled flight.”

JetBlue
JetBlue is extending its commitment to “seat distancing” for flights through the “holiday season” in rows where parties are not traveling together. According to their website: “As the holiday season approaches, we’ll continue to provide more space between individuals who are not traveling together, while doing our best to keep families and those traveling together seated together.

-We will sell less than 70% of seats on any JetBlue flight. Some rows on our larger planes will have all 3 seats open for those traveling together, and some rows on our smaller planes will have both window and aisle seats open.
-For the duration of the holiday season, we’ll continue to limit capacity and block seats. We’ll continuously monitor seat assignments behind the scenes to help seat parties together and provide space between those not traveling together where possible. Seat assignments may be modified to achieve an optimal onboard seating experience for everyone.
-In addition, we’re creating buffer zones around all inflight crewmember jumpseats, to allow for added crewmember and customer safety.”

Hawaiian Airlines
My favorite airline to fly to the islands especially in their lie-flat first class seats is Hawaiian Airlines. They “are currently preventing the booking of middle seats on our aircraft to continue to provide more space for guests and flight attendants. Depending on load factors, seating may need to be adjusted at the gate to maximize spacing throughout the cabin and meet weight and balance restrictions.” They haven’t disclosed an end date but will update once received.

I know American and United claim that blocking the middle seats don’t prevent passengers from getting COVID-19 and that’s true because if a passenger near you or even passing by has it and they’re not wearing a mask, you can get infected. But by blocking the middle seat, it does reduce the number of passengers on the plane, therefore reducing your chances. It’s also a lot more comfortable to fly with an open seat next to you. No more elbowing for that arm rest.

As you can see, Delta has the most generous policy of the four airlines since they’re blocking middle seats until January 6, 2021. Southwest Airlines is next since they’ve committed to keeping middle seats open through Thanksgiving (November 30). They’re followed by Alaska and JetBlue. Hopefully, the latter two will extend.

If I was going to fly, I would not only choose an airline that’s blocking middle seats but I would also choose a window seat so I’m not near people passing through the aisle or getting stuff from their bags. I would also steer clear of the bathrooms.

Do you have any tips to add for flying during COVID-19? Please leave them below!

Johnny Jet
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3 Comments On "Which U.S. Airlines Are Blocking Middle Seats During COVID-19"
  1. Blondie|

    I have been on planes and at least six different airports over the summer…
    No problems or big concerns. The planes are much cleaner (even the bathrooms) as well as airports. It’s your hands to your face that is the big problem when you travel! Yes, coughing and sneezing is a problem, but much of that is mitigated by everyone wearing masks.
    My airline pilot neighbor said the cabin air filtration system on the major airline he works for is excellent. I think the article below is very informative!

    https://askthepilot.com/questionanswers/cabin-air-quality/

  2. CJ|

    I do not know if it is their policy or if I and later, my friend, were just lucky. We each had excellent distancing row-wise on 3 differnt trips with Allegiant in the forward class (economy plus?).

  3. Tarie|

    Flying American LAX-ORD I just bought the middle seat for $89 as an insurance policy for us.
    None of the above airlines fly nonstop on this route. Keeping my fingers crossed!

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