Flights With Empty Middle Seats Decrease COVID Risk 79%, Study Says
Photo Credit: Witthaya Prasongsin | Getty Images

Photo Credit: Witthaya Prasongsin | Getty Images

Flights With Empty Middle Seats Decrease COVID Risk 79%, Study Says

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Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Jul 27, 2020

If you’re taking a trip during the pandemic,  the best way to keep safe is by choosing an airline with a policy of keeping the middle seat empty. 

A study shows that implementing such a policy could lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 from 1 in 4,400 in 1 in 7,300.

MIT Sloan School of Management Professor Arnold Barnett is behind the findings. Eliminating the middle seat could reduce the risk by at least 79%, according to Barnett’s findings. He also notes that the risk of dying from catching COVID on a flight is less than 1 in half a million.

Barnett’s middle seat findings come amid announcements from different U.S. airlines on how they would enforce social distancing.

Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest said they would keep middle seats empty.  United, Spirit, and American, however, are filling them.

It’s important to note that Barnett’s calculations are based on numerous assumptions, including that all passengers are wearing masks—a step he says reduces risks of catching COVID by 82%, as reported in Fortune. He also concludes that someone is more likely to catch the coronavirus by sitting in the same aisle versus passengers in rows behind them or in front of them.