Delta, the last major US airline blocking middle seats, says it will stop doing so on May 1

Delta
A Delta flight attendant on a flight to California in 2014.
  • Delta Air Lines said on Wednesday that after a year of blocking middle seats, it would stop on May 1.
  • The airline is the last major US carrier keeping the seats blocked.
  • Delta said many of its frequent fliers are likely to be vaccinated by that date.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Delta Air Lines will stop blocking middle seats on planes beginning May 1, the company announced on Wednesday.

Delta is the only major US airline still blocking the seats after Alaska Airlines dropped the policy in January. JetBlue, Southwest, and Hawaiian Airlines all stopped blocking middle seats even earlier, Tom Pallini reported for Insider.

"While Delta's decision to block middle seats has given many customers a reason to choose Delta over the past year, the signature hospitality of our employees and the experiences they deliver to customers every day have also deepened their trust in our airline," Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a statement.

Delta said that masks would continue to be mandatory and that it was tapping experts from Emory University and the Mayo Clinic to guide cleaning standards.

Delta started blocking middle seats in April 2020 as few people were traveling. It said in November that it would keep the middle seats free at least through April.

"The relationships we've built, together with the knowledge that nearly 65 percent of those who flew Delta in 2019 anticipate having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, are what's giving us the assurance to offer customers the ability to choose any seat on our aircraft," Bastian said.

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