Delta: No more middle seats to enable social distancing on flights

Posted at 6:13 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 07:02:43-04

(WXYZ) — Delta is taking steps to help customers and employees practice social distancing on the ground and in the air by blocking off middle seats on planes.

The company says it will no longer sell middle seat tickets to maintain space between passengers.

Starting April 13 through May 31, the following temporary changes will go into effect to "further promote a safe flying experience", according to Delta:

  • We are blocking middle seats in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select across all flights. When booking your future seat selection via the Fly Delta App or online, middle seats will be shown as unavailable.
  • We are reducing the number of customers on each flight.
  • We are pausing automatic, advance Medallion Complimentary Upgrades. These will now be processed at the gate – still in priority order – to allow gate agents to determine how to best seat customers while considering social distancing and aircraft weight-and-balance restrictions. 
  • Customers who want to practice social distancing can explore options via the Fly Delta App or at Customers who prefer to be seated directly next to travel companions and family members or needing additional assistance should contact Reservations ahead of travel or talk to a Delta agent upon arriving at the gate.

As for cleanliness on the aircraft, Delta employees have taken the following steps over the last few weeks to help customers practice social distancing:

  • Streamlining food and beverage service on board all U.S. domestic and international flights to decrease touch points between customers and crew.
  • Boarding customers 10 at a time, reminding them to add extra space as they board, and working with customers to find a new seat within their cabin if needed and as space allows.
  • Connecting with customers onboard after the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet, to help them find a new seat while complying with weight-and-balance restrictions.
  • Extending the ability to plan, re-book and travel with us for up to two years – giving Delta customers some extra breathing room for changes.
  • Safety requires that customers sit close to their assigned seat

Delta says an aircraft’s safe operation requires a balanced distribution of weight inside the cabin.

To balance needs of aircraft weight and balance with the desire of customers to practice social distancing, customers will need to be seated within the same class of service and within three rows (in front or behind) of their assigned seat.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.