On Wednesday, Delta Air Lines announced that it would extend the blockage of middle seats on its flights through March 30, 2021. (Previously, the extension lasted through early January.)
The Atlanta-based carrier is the last of the U.S.-based carriers to do so, after Southwest announced last month that it would stop blocking the seats on Dec. 1, 2020.
The move is part of Delta's extensive CareStandard, a set of protective measures applied to each and every flight, including industrial-grade HEPA filters onboard and a comprehensive COVID-19 testing program for employees.
"Several independent studies have validated the effectiveness of the Delta CareStandard’s multi-layered protection, like advanced ventilation and an extensive cleaning regimen, which together significantly reduce the risk of flight-related transmission," said Bill Lentsch, Delta's chief customer experience officer. "However, we recognize some customers are still learning to live with this virus and desire extra space for their peace of mind. We are listening and will always take the appropriate steps to ensure our customers have complete confidence in their travel with us."
This is in addition to the airline's pre-existing flexibility regarding flight changes, including no change fee for most domestic tickets and no change fees for all international tickets purchased through Dec. 31, 2020, regardless of the date of travel. The airline is also allowing passengers to use travel credits through December 2022.
Some airlines have criticized the middle-seat blocks as nothing more than a marketing ploy. "Blocking middle seats is a PR strategy, not a safety strategy," said Josh Earnest, United's chief communications officer, on a recent call. But hey, we're all fans of a little more legroom, so who's going to complain?