Southwest to Fill Middle Seats While Delta Keeps them Blocked Due to COVID-19

Citing recent “science-based findings from trusted medical and aviation organizations” that spread of the COVID-19 virus on planes is less likely than in other indoor settings, Southwest Airlines has announced that beginning December 1 it will no longer block middle seats on its flights.

The airline’s President, Tom Nealon says that holiday bookings are increasing in spite of the current third spike in COVID-19 cases across the country. He said that planes are safer than before to fly on during the crisis due to high-efficiency filters and strong cabin air flow. Whether this plays out as being accurate is anyone’s guess and won’t be known with certainty anytime soon.

Of course, the fact that Southwest and other airlines are losing billions of dollars during the pandemic plays into its decision. In the third quarter of this year which is usually very lucrative since it includes most of the summer, Southwest reported a loss of $1.16 billion. The carrier estimates it turned away ticket sales of at least $20 million in September and expects that amount to double in November.

The four largest U.S. airlines, American, United, Delta and Southwest reported combined losses of more than $10 billion in each of the second and third quarters of 2020.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Airlines, planes on tarmac. (Photo by: Jeff Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Not to miss an opportunity to take advantage of Southwest’s policy change, Delta Air LInes announced that it plans to continue its policy of blocking middle and other seats depending on the type of aircraft, well into 2021. Delta, while also losing billions much like its competitors, is banking on increased sales now and in the future by promoting not only customer loyalty but physical spacing during the pandemic.

Via a playful tweet, Delta trolled Southwest’s decision by saying that its flights will become “…a haunted house, but they’re not blocking middle seats”.

Published by iFlyMSP

After a 35-year travel industry career, the time has come to kick back and relax. Well, not exactly, but it is time to travel without a business schedule dictating where and when. Over the years I've traveled extensively by air for work, both domestically and internationally. I've been to some incredibly exciting and beautiful destinations, and some others, not so much. So now it's my turn (and hopefully yours), to explore the world at a more leisurely pace. Whether you want to discover the U.S. or another continent, the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport is a great starting point. And that's what this blog is all about. I'm not here to assist the rich and famous in figuring out how to best earn and utilize their millions of airline miles and hotel points. Instead, my focus will be on the average Joe and Josephine. Hard-working people (like you!) who have saved up over time for their once or twice a year escape from reality. So if you're contemplating a getaway from MSP or the Upper Midwest via the Twin Cities, you've come to the right place. Happy trails!

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