We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Service has been limited, but water and snacks may be served on flights over 250 miles. Note that face masks that include an exhaust valve are not permitted. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Driving may seem like a safer alternative, but with food and fuel stops, bathroom visits and overnight stays on longer car journeys, avoiding air travel entirely isn’t always the logical pick. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. Masks with exhaust valves are not allowed, and those who refuse to wear an approved mask or face covering may be banned from flying the airline. But United’s Earnest told CNN (via Inc.) that “keeping the seat next to you open is not going to make a material difference.” American says it is thoroughly cleaning aircraft between flights, including using an EPA-approved disinfectant to clean common customer touchpoints (armrests, seat belts, tray tables, etc. And some airlines recently ended the practice. Up until now, in a move adopted by most U.S. airlines, American had blocked about half of its economy-class middle seats, meaning that sales for each flight had been limited to … "For regularly scheduled flights that are expected to be fairly full, we’ll let you change your flight with no change fee or receive a travel credit for your trip. Some of the procedures we’re seeing include: While it’s important to check with your airline as things can change by the day, here’s what you can expect when traveling on each U.S. carrier: Let’s break the policies down in more detail below, giving you an idea of what to expect throughout your journey. Southwest Airlines has updated its COVID-19 policy limiting sales to ensure the middle seat stays open through at least Sept. 30, 2020. Some airlines will not fill the middle seat during this pandemic, though others are now booking all seats. … View our latest valuations here. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. Sun Country has increased the frequency at which it cleans high-touch areas, including arm rests, tray tables and lavatories. Many of the credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. Many travelers, myself included, might start making booking decisions based on airline polices around seat restrictions and face masks for crew and passengers. Here are 6 things to know about Southwest Airlines middle seat policy change 1. [New Zealand covid-19 flight outbreak linked to passenger who tested negative], Through Jan. 6, 2021, Alaska Airlines says it is “limiting the number of guests on our flights and blocking seats.” Gate agents may reassign groups or families to be seated together, although the airline notes that “there can be occasions where extra space cannot be guaranteed due to unforeseen changes such as re-accommodating guests from a previously canceled flight.”, After Dec. 15, Hawaiian Airlines says it will no longer limit capacity to prevent booking middle seats. Hawaiian is blocking the sale of middle seats on certain aircraft through Dec. 15, 2020. Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy. MileagePlus members. A more thorough disinfectant cleaning will take place when time allows between flights. Other measures. “Today, aligned with science-based findings from trusted medical and aviation organizations, we will resume selling all available seats for travel beginning December 1, 2020.”. According to the airline’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage, Spirit’s “expanded aircraft cleaning protocols include hospital-grade disinfectants and antibacterial processes that keep all surfaces throughout the cabin free of viruses and bacteria.”. Almost all U.S. carriers now require passengers to cover their faces onboard, and Alaska, Delta and Southwest each are capping ticket sales, effectively blocking middle seats, as detailed in my guide outlining distancing-related airline policies. Outside of increased cleaning protocols, waived flight change fees and other basic protocols that all airlines are utilizing, it looks like you’re in for a full flight. Sun Country is selling all flights to capacity. In those cases, the airline will offer a free change to a flight with fewer seats occupied. Passengers will board from the rear of the aircraft to the front. More recently, however, many U.S. states have eased restrictions, and an increasing number of travelers are taking to the skies once again. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). A RED VENTURES COMPANY. Frontier is boarding passengers boarding from the rear of the aircraft to the front, to avoid unnecessary contact. Ultimately, traveling right now does carry some risk, even though it may be impossible to quantify. American and United adopted policies of keeping the middle seats vacant last spring but rescinded that policy over the last couple of months as demand for air travel has gradually increased. Chan School of Public Health and the Department of Defense have validated that the risk of viral transmission on board a commercial aircraft is extremely low.”. The airline has reduced inflight service to limit onboard interaction, so customers are encouraged to bring their own food and drinks onboard. United Airlines is one airline company that plans to sell middle seats on its fight amid the coronavirus pandemic and calls for social distancing. Southwest is maintaining its open seating policy, but is not limiting the number of seats sold. All JetBlue crew members and passengers over the age of two are required to wear face coverings or masks. After a United Airlines spokesperson criticized the safety policy of blocking middle seats on flights, Delta reiterated its stance. Detours with locals.Travel tips you can trust. The airline is boarding economy passengers from back to front. American does not permit masks with valves or vents, and customers who refuse to wear a mask or face covering may be banned from flying the airline. United is requiring that all employees and passengers cover their faces in the airport and while onboard an aircraft. For months, as most Americans limited trips outside their homes, airline passenger loads plummeted to levels most of us could have never imagined. If you’re considering flying (or need to) any time soon, the airline you choose will almost certainly have a big impact on the social distancing involved in your flight. Until Oct. 15, JetBlue was blocking all middle seats for purchase on its larger aircraft, and most aisle seats were “blocked for purchase" on smaller aircraft. Spirit is offering self bag-drop stations at select airports, minimizing interactions with employees. I would like to subscribe to The Points Guy newsletters and special email promotions. Middle seats: United will not promise to keep middle seats empty. Airlines and medical experts spar over whether or not the middle seat should be blocked. Detours with locals. PHOTO: United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner at LAX. Alaska Airlines is cleaning common touchpoints (armrests, seat belts, overhead controls, etc.) The airline has also added a disinfectant, which is applied between day flights when an aircraft is on the ground for more than two hours, and during all overnight cleanings at the airline’s Minneapolis-Saint Paul (MSP) hub. The airline cited recent studies on the risk of in-flight coronavirus transmission, stating on its website that “respected researchers such as the Harvard T.H. TPG had an opportunity to witness an aircraft cleaning — see this post for a closer look at the airline’s current procedures. A number of readers have reached out to note that United, too, is blocking middle seats, referencing an April 29 email from Chief Customer Officer Toby … Southwest spends at least six hours cleaning all aircraft overnight, and the carrier says it is using a disinfectant to clean tray tables and lavatories before every flight. Frontier has added a special “health acknowledgment” at check-in, asking passengers to confirm that they nor anyone in their household has exhibited COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days, that they’ve checked their temperature and do not have a fever and that they will sanitize their hands before the flight. Hawaiian is blocking the sale of middle seats on certain aircraft through Dec. 15, 2020. Delta will continue to block all middle seats through at least Mar. She's lived in the south of Spain, eaten her way around Sri Lanka, hiked Jordan's Petra Basin, and spelunked in the remote Caribbean. The airline said the practice “adds confidence and reassurance” for travel during the pandemic. People like empty middle seats in the best of times, but only four airlines currently offer flights without occupied middle seats. The Points Guy will not sell your email. JetBlue will no longer allow passengers to wear masks with exhaust valves, and if you forget your face covering at home, the airline will provide one at the gate. And, as always, individuals who don’t feel comfortable traveling right now should take advantage of their airline’s flexible change or cancellation policy to cancel or postpone their trip. Face masks and sanitizing wipes are available upon request. American Airlines is no longer blocking seats, and all aircraft may be sold to capacity. JetBlue is limiting onboard capacity through Jan. 7, 2021, but the airline is no longer guaranteeing that passengers won’t be seated next to a stranger. Customers who refuse to wear a mask or face covering may be banned from flying the airline. The airline was previously limiting flight capacity to 70 percent of normal levels “to provide additional space between individuals who are not traveling together.”. Southwest has shifted from boarding groups of 30 passengers at a time to groups of 10, and gate agents are asking customers to scan their own boarding passes, minimizing interactions with staff. Starting Dec. 1, JetBlue is no longer blocking seats for sale. 4 questions, answered. United Airlines Won’t Block Middle Seats, Here’s How To Protect Yourself From COVID-19 by Gary Leff on May 12, 2020 Delta and American Airlines are limiting the number of seats they’ll sell on each flight, to give customers confidence they can travel without having another passenger squeezed up next to them in a middle seat. Now, one of those airlines is rolling back the policy. CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners. American Airlines and United Airlines have resumed selling potentially packed flights, now that they’ve reversed their temporary coronavirus-inspired policy of blocking middle seats. Airport employees and flight attendants are required to wear masks, and all passengers are required to wear masks during boarding, during the entire flight and during deplaning as well. This is e ven though the airline is burning through four million a day – it could really use the revenue a middle seat would provide. The airline is also applying an antimicrobial solution every seven days. United Airlines. The credit card offers that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which ThePointsGuy.com receives compensation. The airline is still leaving seats open as first-come, first-served based on boarding group. Shannon McMahon is a reporter covering travel for By The Way, The Washington Post's travel destination. The airline is boarding passengers from the rear of the aircraft to the front, to minimize interactions onboard. For travel after that date, however, the airline quietly updated its seating policy to remove that middle-seat guarantee, and in November the airline reversed its seat-blocking policy. © 2021 THE POINTS GUY, LLC. The airline is also requiring customers to complete a health acknowledgement prior to boarding. All Alaska employees are required to wear face masks, and all passengers two years and older are required to wear masks as well. What to know about getting tested for the coronavirus to travel, New Zealand covid-19 flight outbreak linked to passenger who tested negative. The company said it will limit capacity on flights, though. Spirit passengers and customer-facing employees are required to wear masks or face coverings. However, without firm requirements from the federal government, policies differ significantly from one carrier to the next, creating a lot of confusion among travelers. With a flight attendant’s permission, passengers may move to avoid sitting near other travelers, if seats are available elsewhere on the aircraft. If a flight exceeds 65% capacity, passengers can be notified about possible reaccomodation options. The airline is so far the only U.S. airline to commit to blocking middle seats through the first quarter of 2021. Flights with rapid testing are being dubbed ‘covid-free.’ Here’s why that is a myth. Passengers who refuse to wear a mask may be banned from flying the airline. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Spirit Airlines. As with many other carriers, vented masks are not permitted. Spirit is not currently limiting the sale of seats on flights. This equates to blocked middle seats, although they are maintaining their open seating policy. “In Southwest’s open seating environment, families, or those traveling together, may still sit together and occupy a middle seat for their convenience.” Previously, middle seats were being accounted for in booking limits only through October, so the practice could again be extended. Delta is requiring that all employees and contractors wear masks, and passengers are required to wear face coverings as well, at all Delta areas in the airport and onboard all flights. Sanitizing wipes are also available onboard. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. When the pandemic came to the United States at the beginning of 2020, airlines … As part of the road to its recovery, the airline is opting against blocking middle seats and is instead offering free flight changes for passengers when more than 70% of seats are booked. Here are the major airlines that have been blocking off seats to maintain social distancing, and how long they say they will continue to do so. Delta is boarding flights from the rear of the aircraft to the front, to minimize opportunities for customers to come into contact onboard. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, some airlines blocked selling middle seats to allow passengers to social distance while flying. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered. In cases where more than 70% of passengers have checked in, the airline will allow customers to move to another flight free of charge. Or purchase a subscription for unlimited access to real news you can count on. The airline has also installed clear shields at counters, added “distance dots” to promote distancing and shifted to an “on-demand” snack service. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page. They’re blocking middle seats on larger aircraft and certain aisle seats on smaller ones, at least through Sept. 8th. ), along with cockpits, galleys and other crew areas. Masks are available upon request at ticket counters, gates and onboard flights. Airlines launch trial of an app that would verify travelers’ coronavirus test results. American and United adopted policies of keeping the middle seats vacant last spring but rescinded that policy over the last couple of months as demand for air travel has gradually increased. Please view our advertising policy page for more information. Additionally, as demand begins to pick up, carriers may continue to feel financial pressure to adjust seat-blocking policies — with slim margins, it’s hard for a flight to turn a profit if you aren’t allowing travelers to purchase a third of the seats. Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional information. Southwest began limiting the number of seats sold on its flights in May and continued the practice through the Thanksgiving travel rush. United is selling flights to capacity. “This practice of effectively keeping middle seats open bridged us from the early days of the pandemic, when we had little knowledge about the behavior of the virus, to now,” Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly said in an October statement announcing the change. JetBlue makes it easy to purchase an additional seat for extra personal space, however, with detailed instructions provided on the airline’s website. All Allegiant customers, flight attendants and airport employees are required to wear face coverings. “As always, Southwest customers may choose their own seats,” Southwest says on its website about the boarding process. Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Delta is also limiting first-class cabins to half-capacity, and it is “blocking one aisle of seats on aircraft without middle seats.” For bookings of three or more people, middle seats will appear as available in an effort to allow families to select seats together on the seat map. *Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. JetBlue is not blocking middle seats, but is trying to give passengers some space. While passengers may see almost entirely unreserved seat maps at booking — expecting to find those conditions onboard — airlines are canceling and consolidating flights. All employees are required to wear face masks and all passengers age two and above are required to wear face coverings as well, at all Frontier areas within the airport and onboard all flights. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Southwest Airlines. United Airlines is joining the list of airlines introducing policies to encourage social distancing, including blocking seats. Additionally, testing and/or a 14-day quarantine may be required for all passengers traveling to Hawaii, as outlined in this detailed guide. Additionally, testing and/or a 14-day quarantine may be required for all passengers traveling to Hawaii, as outlined in this detailed guide. Alaska Airlines also intends to extend the seat block policy until after the Christmas period. [What to know about getting tested for the coronavirus to travel]. Aboard Amtrak’s Crescent, surprising comfort and welcome seclusion on a slow train to Mississippi, Paddling through a painterly landscape in New York’s Adirondack Park. AA says it will instead alert passengers when their flights are getting full during the check-in process, giving them the chance to switch, free of charge, if their flight is eligible. Customers who refuse to wear a mask or face covering may be banned from flying the airline. All Southwest employees are required to wear face masks and passengers are required to wear masks or face coverings during their entire journey as well. using a high-grade EPA disinfectant before every flight. United is selling all flights to capacity. MileagePlus members seated in United Economy may be able to purchase a seat in Economy Plus, take advantage of premium cabin seating offers *, or request a MileagePlus Travel Award or MileagePlus Upgrade Award.The availability of these options varies based on whether you're booking travel, have already booked travel, or are eligible for check-in. United utilizes electrostatic spraying before most flights, in addition to regular preflight aircraft cleaning procedures. How do travel bubbles work? All seats are available to purchase on Allegiant flights. You can still pick your seat and sit together, however. Delta is thoroughly cleaning common touchpoints (armrests, seat belts, overhead controls, etc.) The airline says currently 85% of its flights are less than half full. 1 weather alerts 1 closings/delays 1 weather alerts 1 closings/delays United Airlines recently announced that it was making some middle seats unavailable for passengers to select. and applying a disinfectant fogging before every flight. Frontier is cleaning aircraft before every flight, focusing on passenger seating, cabin walls, overhead bins, galleys and lavatories. Middle seats will remain open until Sept. 30th. Travel better with news, tips and guides that make you feel like a local wherever you go. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel. Hawaiian says it is thoroughly disinfecting all planes after each transpacific flight with hospital-grade disinfectants, focusing on common touch areas. 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