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More Airlines Are Dropping The Dreaded Middle Seat
More airlines are opting to temporarily drop the agonizing middle seat in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
United recently announced that that it would block middle seats and has now joined a growing list of airlines that are introducing these policies to encourage social distancing.
With fewer people flying and the need to space those travelers who are, this has become a public health move, as reported in USA Today.
Delta, Alaska, and Spirit are among the air carriers that have blocked passengers from booking middle seats.
Meanwhile, other carriers have implemented modified versions.
American Airlines announced that the company will block 50 percent of its middle seats. “Our team also monitors flights closely to maintain social distancing,” said spokesman Ross Feinstein.
JetBlue is making a third of its seats unavailable to passengers.
“We are capping our flights whenever possible to allow for a level of social distancing, relaxing our assigned seating policy and proactively assigning seats to maintain distance among customers not traveling together,” said JetBlue spokesman Derek Dombrowski.
And while emptier planes are considered to be a holy grail for passengers, travel analysts say this won’t last long.
Alaska Airlines’ policy is only allowing empty middle seats until May 31. In addition, many airline companies rely on middle seats to break even on flights.
“Right now, we need it, because not doing so would contradict instructions from authorities and common sense. The urgent need to slow infection rates takes precedence overall, even if the solution is not perfect,” Daniel Baron, managing director of Tokyo-based LIFT Aero Design, told BBC. “Long term, however, it is not economically sustainable. After the dust settles, we will all go back to expecting affordable global mobility again. To enable the fares for that, especially if total capacity has been reduced, airlines will need bums in all seats.”