Delta joins other US airlines in ending empty middle seats

Delta Air Lines will stop blocking middle seats in May, meaning that no more U.S. airlines will limit capacity on flights to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19

Delta Air Lines, the last U.S. airline still blocking middle seats, will end that policy in May as air travel recovers and more people become vaccinated against COVID-19.

The decision announced Wednesday reversed a policy that had been in place since last April, and which Delta’s CEO had repeatedly cited as raising trust in the airline.

Social-distancing is hard if not impossible on an airplane, even with middle seats empty — a point that United CEO Scott Kirby made many times to explain his airline’s resistance to seat-blocking.

Air travel in the United States is recovering from pandemic lows. More than 1 million travelers have gone through U.S. airports for each of the last 20 days, although March traffic remains down nearly half from the same month in 2019.

Delta announced a smorgasbord of other changes. Tickets bought or expiring this year will be good through the end of 2022, Delta will offer a quicker path to elite status in its loyalty program for the rest of 2021, and it will bring back snacks on April 14.

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