Delta WIll Continue To Block Middle Seats Through April 2021

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Delta has today announced an extension of the measures it first introduced back in April 2020 as the airline says that it will continue to block the middle seat in its aircraft through April 2021.

Delta’s Covid Cabin Measures

Through 30 April 2021, Delta will have the following measures in place:

  • On aircraft with middle seats, Delta will block the selection of middle seats in Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+, and Main Cabin for parties of 1-2. Parties of 3 or more people can continue selecting seats together.
  • On aircraft without any middle seats, Delta will block the selection of one aisle of seats on smaller aircraft.
  • Adjacent seats will be blocked in First Class.*
  • On select routes where customer demand is high Delta says that it will look for opportunities to upgrade the route to a larger aircraft or add more flights “to promote space on board”.
  • Delta will continue to board its aircraft by row, starting from the rear of the aircraft to the front. Delta One, First Class, and Diamond Medallion customers may board at any point during the boarding process.

*Delta One cabins with two aisles will have no capacity limitation. Parties of 2 in the First Class cabin and in any Delta One cabin with one aisle may select seats together.

Quick Thoughts

This isn’t quite as strong a set of measures as Delta had in place at times last year (capacity restrictions on wide-body aircraft have been lifted) but the airline is still doing more to limit capacity onboard its aircraft than all the other US carriers (the last two US carriers other than Delta to block middle seats were JetBlue and Alaska Airlines and they both stopped blocking seats last month).

I have no idea how much the blocking of seats does to stop the spread of coronavirus but at this point, I don’t think this is about science. It’s all about perception. Delta may be appearing to leave money on the table by allowing its aircraft to fly with reduced capacities, but I suspect the airline is continuing to take a well-calculated gamble that travelers will view it as the carrier to fly if you want to be extra-safe (or extra comfortable) and, based on the fact that Delta now has months of data on which to base its decisions, it’s probably safe to assume that the airline is seeing this strategy work.

If Delta is still making good profits and the public are getting more toom, this may actually be a genuine win-win situation for airline and flyer alike – that’s not something we often see with Delta.

Bottom Line

Delta has confirmed that it will continue to block the middle seats on most of its aircraft through 30 April 2021 and that leaves it as the only US carrier to continue blocking seats into spring 2021.

Does this move by Delta make you any more likely to choose it over another domestic carrier?