Delta Air Lines, in a message to its travel partners on Thursday, announced that it would be keeping the middle seat open on all of its flights beyond September.
“For your comfort and safety, more flights will be added as planes reach the capacity limit and middle seats will continue to be blocked beyond September,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a message.
Delta joins Southwest, which announced a similar policy earlier this week, and JetBlue, which announced it would do so through Labor Day, in committing to social distancing for its guests through at least the end of the summer. Other airlines, including American, have come under fire for resuming to book flights at full capacity despite calls for social distancing rules from public health officials.
Bastian earlier in the week said that the airline was also enforcing its mask policy, which required both its guests and crew to wear a mask, through the end of the year.
“Wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently shared that no symptomatic secondary cases were reported after 139 salon clients were exposed to two symptomatic hair stylists with COVID-19 while both the stylists and the clients wore face masks. That’s why we remain committed to requiring you and our employees to wear a mask or face covering when you travel with Delta through December 31,” Bastian wrote in his message.
Delta has also been testing all of its employees, with full plans to test virtually “all employees” over the next four weeks. The infection rate for the first round of employee testing, according to Bastian, “is below the national average and exemplifies that the layers of protection in place are working.”