Delta Air Lines extends middle seat blocking policy through April

Officials with Delta Air Lines announced plans Monday to extend the company’s policy on blocking middle seats on flights through April 30 amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Delta began to block middle seats in its aircraft beginning in April 2020 as a precaution aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19. Since then, officials have extended the policy several times.

“We want our customers to have complete confidence when traveling with Delta, and they continue to tell us that more space provides more peace of mind,” Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer for Delta, said Monday in a news release.

“We’ll continue to reassess seat blocking in relation to case transmission and vaccination rates, while bringing back products and services in ways that instill trust in the health and safety of everyone on board – that will always be Delta’s priority.”

The airline is the only one in the U.S. to continue to block middle seats as a precaution. In January, Alaska Airlines resumed seating middle seats in the company’s aircraft, citing studies that showed mask-wearing travelers were well-protected from COVID-19 due to air circulation and filtration systems.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people avoid travel due to the “extremely high” number of COVID-19 cases reported nationwide. On Monday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the CDC, said that the U.S. continues to see more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases reported daily.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 27 million people nationwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19, resulting in nearly 464,000 deaths, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

On Sunday, the last date for which data was available, airport officials at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints nationwide screened about 855,000 people ahead of flights, far down from the 2.2 million Americans who traveled on the same day last year.

More than 106.2 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 worldwide as of Monday, resulting in 2.3 million deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.