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Delta expands plans to block middle seats through March 2021

The announcement makes Delta the only U.S. airline who has committed to continue blocking middle seats on flights beyond early January.

WASHINGTON — Delta Air Lines announced Wednesday that middle seats will continue to be blocked on all of its flights through the holiday season and until at least March 2021, and it plans to limit its onboard capacity.

The airline said it is taking precautions to give travelers confidence and reassurance they are safe as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread.

Delta claims it is the only U.S. airline blocking middle seats for flights departing through March 30, 2021. Originally, Delta only planned to block middle seats until Jan. 6, 2021. Other airlines have gradually resumed selling more seats on flights. Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue plan to stop limiting the number of seats it fills after Dec. 1. Alaska Airlines has said they will lift caps on seating after January 6. 

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"We recognize some customers are still learning to live with this virus and desire extra space for their peace of mind,"  Delta's Chief Customer Experience Officer Bill Lentsch said in a statement. "We are listening and will always take the appropriate steps to ensure our customers have complete confidence in their travel with us.”

For customers in parties of just one or two, the middle seat will be blocked when trying to purchase a seat. Customers in parties of three or more will have the middle seat appear as a seating option to allow them the option to sit together on a flight.

Additional precautions surrounding the coronavirus have been taken by the airline including, a hand sanitizer station near the boarding door and bathrooms on every aircraft, planes are sanitized before passengers board and new industrial-grade filters have been added to aircraft. It's all part of the 100 measures the airline is taking to keep passengers safe, called the Delta CareStandard.

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On top of the limited middle seat timeline extension, Delta is also allowing more flexibility for travelers if plans need to be changed. It will not charge any fees for U.S. domestic ticket or domestic award ticket, except Basic Economy fares; no fees for all domestic and international tickets purchased through Dec. 31, 2020; and it is extending the use of its travel credits through December 2022 for flights originally scheduled before March 31, 2021.

Credit: AP
In this file photo the tails of two Delta Air Lines planes are shown parked at the gates at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.