In September, Pattie Turnbull and her husband flew round trip on American Airlines from Fresno, Calif., to Tucson, with a layover in Phoenix. These seats are notated as “Stretch Seats” and also include extra legroom. Alaska Airlines, which had promised to provide empty middle seats through the end of November, said in its earnings release this week that it will now extend that policy through Jan. 6. American Airlines AAL, -1.45% has come under scrutiny for its decision not to block the middle seats on flights in the name of preventing coronavirus transmission — but many other airlines … Mask Policy: All passengers flying on American Airlines are required to wear face coverings onboard. Those things helped me feel a lot safer.”. For a little bit more, a Big Front Seat™ comes with extra legroom. Prior to working for Forbes, she contributed to other leading publications in the credit cards and rewards space. Yes. “Would I travel again? “They gave out hand sanitizer three different times during the flight: at the beginning, near the middle and near the end,” she says of her Delta flights. In doing so, US airlines had to quickly adapt to keep current customers and bring in new ones. Passengers are encouraged to bring their own face covering, but masks will be provided if needed. “I heard more personal conversations on this trip than I have ever heard before — or wish to hear again,” Turnbull said. EY & Citi On The Importance Of Resilience And Innovation, Impact 50: Investors Seeking Profit — And Pushing For Change, Healthcare And Childcare FSA Fix For 2021, Finally, 5 Profitable Side Hustles That Can Literally Change Your Life, How Airline And Hotel Loyalty Programs Are Responding To Coronavirus, New Bigger Charitable Tax Break For 2021 In Year-End Spending Package, Medical Expense Deduction Tax Relief Is Big Win For Seniors In Year-End Spending Package, Go Solar! Customers can request to be notified if their flight exceeds 65% capacity so they can explore alternate travel options. Other measures ... Should Airlines Leave the Middle Seat Empty? Although many U.S. airlines have been blocking middle seats on planes to provide social distancing as much as possible, that won’t last forever. (Delta, Spirit … Although many U.S. airlines have been blocking middle seats on planes to provide social distancing as much as possible, that won’t last forever. American Airlines has taken the approach of not seating passengers in 50% of its middle seats, and JetBlue isn't assigning passengers to around a third of its seats and assigning seats to maintain distance among customers not traveling together. There is no end date specified. Passenger loads. Empty middle seats? Date of travel: July 2020. The carriers Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Korean Air have been experimenting with adding an extra inch to widen the middle seat on planes. Mask Policy: United requires all passengers and crew to wear a mask throughout their flight. Right now, only Alaska Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue are blocking seats for sale to limit the number of passengers onboard. For a coach passenger who has a 1% chance of dying if infected with COVID-19, the estimated mortality risk on a full flight is one in 430,000, Barnett said, and one in 770,000 if middle seats are empty. At the beginning of August, she took a United flight from Philadelphia to Chicago that was overbooked. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many airlines blocked middle seats to allow passengers to social distance while flying. The couple felt safe flying nonetheless, in part because of their own safety precautions. Coronavirus: Face masks yes, empty middle seats no, says airlines body. ... "I had concerns at first because of COVID, but I needed to get away," Wolf said. Sometimes that has meant flying Spirit Airlines. Blocked Seats: Delta has one of the most generous blocked seating arrangements in the industry. From Georgia to North Carolina, King says, each passenger had rows to themselves. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own. Face coverings will be provided upon request. It is unclear how airlines will make these exceptions, so it’s best to bring a doctor’s note if you have an underlying condition. © 2021 Forbes Media LLC. But, as time has passed and we've come closer to … As of July 1, American Airlines is booking its cabins to full capacity . [These are the airlines that are still blocking seats for social distancing], Potter says that while he has experienced full flights, airports have been emptier than he has ever seen before. On full flights, travelers can optionally request to move flights at no charge. Or purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on. Holiday airport crowds broke records. Be sure to consider the extra space—or lack thereof—when choosing the best flight value. You can purchase a seat assignment and choose the seat you really want. But at the end of the day, we’re all in the same tin can for six hours in a row, so does it matter? “It felt safe, it felt fine, and I’m still not eager to get on a plane again soon, which is very rare,” he says. Some airlines will not fill the middle seat during this pandemic, though others are now booking all seats. Tatyannah King is a graduate student at Widener University in Chester, Pa., studying to be a certified sex therapist. Note that the airline does not guarantee a blocked seat, however, as the carrier may choose to use those seats to accommodate passengers on previously canceled flights. But most companies have been reluctant to guarantee that they will keep middle seats empty or otherwise limit passengers on all flights. No Federal Mandates For Masks On Planes Or Empty Middle Seats As some airlines try to sell every seat on every flight, the Trump administration urges them to leave some seats … On medium-haul flights, it automatically blocks middle seats in case of low load factor. We used a lot of hand sanitizer.”. ### About Spirit Airlines: Spirit Airlines (NYSE: SAVE) is committed to delivering the best value in the sky. You'll find stories, tips, and inspiration here and on her travel blog, sightDOING. Every airline is taking certain precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some are going to extra mile by blocking middle seats and letting passengers change flights for free. This is a critical question airlines are facing, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Although these policies have been in place for months, airlines are tightening enforcement and implementing consequences if you refuse, according to the Airlines for America industry trade organization. https://www.washingtonpost.com/resizer/nxfjYY5X1OmODzMvrNNCDc2w8qo=/480x0/www.washingtonpost.com/wp-stat/newsletter/btw-promo.jpg, Flight attendant union says Capitol rioters should be banned from flights home, In new U.S.-Europe air corridors, tourism experts see a strategy for quarantine-free travel, U.S. airlines push to slash international travel restrictions, implement universal testing. Delivered every Thursday. Even now, not all airlines guarantee open middle seats when flights are full. Southwest Airlines will not extend its current policy of blocking the middle seat past Nov. 30 and both Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines policies of blocking seats will expire early next year. Natalie Compton is a staff writer for the Washington Post's new travel destination, By The Way. Here’s what to expect on major U.S. airlines. Mask Policy: Alaska Airlines is requiring all crew members and passengers over the age of 2 to wear masks. They are using touchless technology to screen passengers and will deny boarding to anyone with a temperature of 100.4℉ or higher. Spirit Airlines fly to 60+ destinations with 500+ daily flights with Ultra Low Fare. And one more interesting element of pandemic flying? King felt more comfortable when flying Delta in September thanks to the airline’s strict mask policy and efforts to enforce social distancing. You are required to bring your own mask, but masks are available if needed at check-in, in lounges, boarding gates, jet bridges and onboard the aircraft. Covid flying. LOS ANGELES — Devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, some U.S. airlines are hoping to put potential passengers at ease by imposing tougher rules for mask wearing, including threats of … “Even though it’s fast and efficient, I’m not confident that TSA is sanitizing their bins whatsoever,” she says. Please visit Spirit’s COVID-19 Information Center for more information on safety enhancements. American Airlines, the world's largest carrier disclosed Friday that "customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1." Enhanced Residential Solar Tax Breaks In Year-End Spending Package As Part Of Clean Energy Push, Paris Continues To Reel From Covid-19 As Holidays Approach, Master List Of All Major International Airline Coronavirus Change And Cancellation Policies. Good job by spirit airlines. American Airlines is blocking off 50 percent of the main cabin middle seats on its aircraft, as well as any seats situated near the flight attendants’ jump seats. A new MIT study confirms the airline view that flying is safe, because the risk of contracting coronavirus if the middle seat is filled is lower than many other things we do every day. “I’m not sure if I’d fly just for the heck of it, but I would do it again in order to see my family,” she said. Airlines don’t always sell every seat on a plane, though. Becky Pokora is an avid traveler with a particular love for the outdoors. If she does fly again, Gorden says, she would probably do more research to see which airlines promised to keep the middle seat open, not only for her coronavirus comfort but because it is nice to have extra space. Thank alanlH4964QY . Like everything related to COVID-19, these policies are subject to change as airlines re-evaluate health concerns. They are providing passengers on all flights with a health and safety kit, which includes a single-use face mask, non-latex gloves and sanitizing wipes. July 10, 2020 10:10 AM Share on … Fake news about the coronavirus can do real harm. Middle-seat Blocking Through Jan. 6, 2021, Alaska is blocking middle seats. When COVID-19 caused the world to shut down, many airlines made the decision to leave middle seats open to allow for social distancing. United Airlines, for one, is offering to let fliers on crowded flights rebook. Much like other industries, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has shaken the airline market to its core. She's a credit card enthusiast and digital nomad who has leveraged credit cards to travel around. These are the airlines that are still blocking seats for social distancing, Everything you should and shouldn’t do to stay healthy on a plane, An interactive guide to traveling safely for the holidays, What to know about getting tested for the coronavirus to travel. Mask Policy: All JetBlue passengers and crew are required to wear face coverings while flying. To avoid some of those crowded hot spots, Potter recommends travelers stick to carry-on bags instead of checked luggage during the pandemic. Mask Policy: All guests are mandated to wear a mask or face covering while boarding and on board the aircraft. Flying now doesn’t look like it ever has before. A couple don't accept medical exemptions. (Bizzy Coy). Spirit Airlines is the leading Ultra Low Cost Carrier in the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America. Small children are not required to wear face coverings nor are passengers with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing masks. Blocked Seats: American Airlines is not limiting capacity on their flights. Apply Now Copyright © 2021 Spirit Airlines, Inc. All Rights Reserved. “I really appreciated that as well.”. Blocked Seats: Spirit is not limiting capacity on board their flights and notes that some aircraft may be more full than others. American is blocking off 50% of its middle seats. The experience in-flight is different, too. Travelers are used to comparing extra fees, baggage allowances, legroom and even coronavirus change and cancellation policies. Blocked Seats: Alaska is capping all flights at 65% capacity for flights through January 6, 2021. However, you may be seated next to others when load factor is high. Spirit Airlines. Air Canada’s load factor for the first half of 2020 was 34.9% according to the OAG. Mask Policy: Hawaiian Airlines requires all passengers to wear masks during boarding, in-flight and deplaning. alanlH4964QY. Shea Gorden is a public relations account executive in Santa Monica, Calif., who flew American Airlines with her sister to see their family in North Carolina in September. News Coronavirus Comfortable masks, onboard snacks and drinks and plenty of hand sanitizer are pandemic travel essentials. Becky Pokora is an avid traveler with a particular love for the outdoors. But it would probably only be for the reason of seeing family or something important … not so much for vacation just yet,” Gorden says. “I was extremely impressed,” she says of the experience. Temperature Screenings: Notably, Frontier Airlines is the only airline requiring temperature screenings from all passengers before boarding. It might be worth it to you to pay a bit more for the assurance extra space offers. “I wiped down everything around me, everything I can possibly touch. This includes during check-in, boarding, in flight and deplaning. Airports are receiving only a fraction of the travelers compared to the same time last year and some eateries and other businesses are closed. Passing through the TSA checkpoint. “Covid flying” Review of Spirit Airlines. Delta CEO says airline will continue COVID-19 middle seat policy 'well into next year' The decision to sell the middle seat will be 'based very much on customer sentiment,' Ed Bastian said However, travelers are returning to the skies as states open up and health risks feel more manageable, so planes are once again selling out. Seat assignments start at just $5 and vary according to specific routes and location in the aircraft. We compare airlines' COVID-19 policies. Enhanced aircraft cleaning and sanitization. Alaska Airlines will have masks available for passengers who forget theirs at home. Burroughs felt uncomfortable seeing groups of passengers around her with their masks down to eat and drink the entire flight. Middle seats on most of Spirit Airlines’ aircraft will be blocked, according to the company’s website. Compared to her experiences flying to Ireland before, Coy says her September international flight was much less crowded. Nearly all airlines require masks onboard and most have announced stringent cleaning protocols as well. Detours with locals.Travel tips you can trust. Now, mask requirements and space onboard may also impact your decision for flying for the holidays and beyond. “I had no choice but to get on a plane,” she said of making the decision to fly JetBlue from Rochester, N.Y., to New York City, then from New York City to Dublin on Aer Lingus. “So right after I go through TSA, it’s my process that I use hand sanitizer immediately and then go to the bathroom and completely wash my hands.”, [Everything you should and shouldn’t do to stay healthy on a plane]. However, “there are areas in every airport that you may want to avoid,” he says. Caroline Lupini is the Credit Card and Travel Analyst for Forbes Advisor. Travel better with news, tips and guides that make you feel like a local wherever you go. Photo: A. Wee. Airline COVID-19 safety rules, compared: Masks, middle seats - … Blocked Seats: Sun Country is not restricting access to middle seats or limiting capacity on board their flights. Passengers on these airlines will have more space to spread out. Empty middle seats? Masks will be provided at no cost if customers need them. “From my perspective, it seemed like everybody was following the rules and having a calm and peaceful flying experience,” Coy says. On Sept. 4, the Friday before Labor Day, 968,673 passengers flew on commercial airlines in the United States. “I didn’t feel safe because everyone was practically squished together.”. Middle seats aren't being blocked on its aircraft but Spirit has stepped up with important safety measures like requiring face coverings and installing safety features at airports. Mask Policy: Customers are required to wear a face covering for boarding and the duration of the flight. “Checking in at the airport desk and getting in line to drop off baggage and then getting to the baggage carousel where people also congregate — these are the only places in the airport really where there are any crowds whatsoever.”. If middle seats are empty, risk goes down to one in 7,700. These seats require an additional fee (prices vary based on route and flight duration). Customers who refuse or who remove masks in-flight may be suspended from flying the airline again in the future. Southwest Airlines announced it will resume selling the middle seat starting Dec. 1 after stopping for months to help with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seats onboard the A320 in an IndiGo flight to New Delhi. (Kyle Potter), Amanda Burroughs and her son, Grant, 7, are ready for take off with Delta in matching Disney masks on October 4 in Minneapolis, MN. Passengers without masks may be denied boarding. Regardless, there will be space for separate parties to sit apart. When possible, crew members may reseat customers to provide additional distancing. 1. Not only that, but middle-seat travellers will be given even more room. “They were asking people if they wanted flight vouchers to move their flights to a different date,” she says. Bizzy Coy is a Fulbright scholar who flew to Ireland in September to begin her program during the pandemic. “There were a lot more empty seats; There could have been more strategic distancing of passengers. Mask Policy: Travelers are required to wear face coverings over the nose and mouth when flying on Spirit Airlines. We compare airlines’ COVID-19 policies JetBlue and Southwest offer no medical exemptions to their face-covering rules. More room and JetBlue are exceptions, pledging to block middle seats open to passengers... Are more than 70 % of its middle seats, although they are using touchless to. 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