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Press Release: Delta blocking middle seats to enable social distancing


Press Release hub banner blue with title in red white and blueIn the latest move to ensure Delta is keeping people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the carrier is taking steps to help customers and employees practice social distancing on the ground and in the air in keeping with current health-expert recommendations.

Protecting our customers 

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

  • 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 delta.com. 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.

In addition to transforming cleanliness across aircraft and airports to deliver our new Delta Clean standard for the long term, Delta people have already 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 

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.

Protecting Delta people 

Keeping our people safe helps keep our customers safe. That’s why we continue to take steps to encourage social distancing, when possible, and we remain in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and local health organizations to make necessary adjustments across our business. Customers will notice some of these steps.

A few of the ways we’re taking care of our people include: 

  • Offering paid protection for employees who meet the CDC’s criteria of being at higher risk for severe illness so they can stay home from work without worry.
  • Encouraging Delta people to wear a personal cloth face covering or mask at work in accordance to CDC recommendation, as well as providing face masks to employees interacting with ill customers, using sources that will not impact the critical needs of healthcare workers.
  • Encouraging employees without operational critical roles to work from home.
  • Expanding temperature screenings to locations across our system to protect employees in Delta workplaces.
  • Temporarily blocking seats around jump seats, where flight attendants are often seated, to allow additional distance between crew members. This is in addition to seating crew members in the cabin to allow for social distancing on transoceanic flights and where jump seats are located side-by-side on select aircraft, effective by April 15.
  • Providing hand sanitizer in work stations and lounges, offering sanitizing wipes and gloves on board and cleaning flight decks daily as part of an enhanced flight deck cleaning program.
  • Using the same electrostatic spraying – or “fogging” – that we use across our aircraft to administer a safe, high-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant that is highly effective against many communicable diseases, including coronaviruses, at all Reservations & Customer Engagement Centers by April 11.
  • Developing workstations to help Delta TechOps teams with operationally critical roles practice social distancing, as well as assigning specific airport areas to limit social contact and help avoid meetings in jet bridges and other areas where people gather.
  • Providing our Airport Customer Service team with protective gloves and masks, along with readily available hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to clean surfaces in high-traffic customer and employee areas.

Featured image credited to istock.com/JakeOlimb