Delta to block middle seats, cap seating at 75% through holidays

Source: Delta

Source: Delta

Delta Air Lines said it will cap seating on its planes at 75% capacity in the main cabin from October through early January of next year.

That’s up from the 60% cap that Atlanta-based Delta currently has in place through Sept. 30.

The cap on seating allows Delta to better space out passengers, with middle seats blocked, in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The airline will allow middle seats to be booked for customers in parties of three or more, such as families with children.

Airlines have seen a significant decline in business due to the pandemic, with air travel down about 70%.

Delta said it will still limit first class to 50% capacity on its mainline planes. But, starting October 1, it will not block seats in business class on widebody planes, saying its Delta One business class cabin is “designed with more space and privacy built in.”

On planes without middle seats, the airline said it will block certain other seats.

In first class on certain Delta Connection regional jets, it will cap seating at 67%.

Delta said it will try to add flights or use larger planes on routes where planes begin to fill up.

Blocking middle seats does not necessarily mean passengers will be 6 feet away from each other.

But Delta’s chief customer experience officer Bill Lentsch said medical experts have said “more distance on board makes a difference.”

We believe that taking care of our customers and employees and restoring confidence in the safety of air travel is more important right now than filling up every seat on a plane.

- Bill Lentsch, Delta's Chief Customer Experience Officer

Southwest Airlines is blocking middle seats through at least Oct. 31, but United and American are not.