While demand for travel is still way down compared to last year, we’ve seen a massive increase in travelers over the past few weeks. Given how many aircraft have been grounded by airlines, those flights that are operating tend to be pretty full.
Well, American Airlines flights may be getting even busier as of July 1.
American Airlines will no longer block seats
Since April, American Airlines has been booking flights to at most 85% of capacity, including on both mainline and regional aircraft. While this doesn’t allow for true physical distancing, it at least means that some people won’t have to sit next to strangers.
Well, this will be changing soon. As of July 1, 2020, American Airlines will be booking flights to 100% of capacity. For the first time in a few months, this means you could find yourself on a flight without an empty seat.
American Airlines will stop blocking seats as of July 1
American may give you the option of switching flights
While American Airlines won’t be blocking seats, the airline will continue to notify customers if a flight is expected to be full. If this is the case, customers can move to another flight with more open seats, all without incurring any costs.
This is in addition to American’s change fee waiver policy for travel through September 30, 2020.
If your flight is full, you may be given the option to switch to another flight
How does this compare to other airlines’ policies?
With American Airlines once again booking flights to capacity, how does this compare to other airlines?
Well, United Airlines has been booking flights to 100% capacity this entire time, despite their social distancing sham. On the plus side, the airline has informed customers if flights were projected to be full, and has given them the option of being rebooked on another flight.
Meanwhile three US airlines continue to do an exceptional job when it comes to seat blocking:
- Through September 30, 2020, Delta is capping flights at about 60% of capacity
- Through July 31, 2020, JetBlue is guaranteeing you won’t sit next to a stranger
- Through September 30, 2020, Southwest is capping flights at about 67% of capacity
As you can see, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest, are really going above and beyond, while the rest of airlines… aren’t.
Southwest Airlines is blocking one third of seats
Why I can’t blame American for this policy change
I can’t really blame American for this policy change. More specifically, I think the 85% cap made no sense:
- American isn’t guaranteeing anyone an empty seat next to them with this policy, unlike Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest
- At that point American doesn’t really have a competitive advantage by blocking 15% of seats, so it seems like there’s value in either guaranteeing empty middle seats or doing nothing, but I don’t see much value to American’s middle ground approach
We can all vote with our wallets. If we care about empty middle seats, we’ll book Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest. If we don’t, we can book other airlines.
American’s policy didn’t create a competitive advantage
American will ask customers to complete health declaration
As of June 30, 2020, American Airlines will ask customers during the check-in process to certify that they have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for the past 14 days. American won’t be the first airline to require this, as United Airlines introduced something similar recently.
Customers will have to complete a health declaration during check-in
As of July 1, 2020, American Airlines will book flights to 100% of capacity. If you are on a particularly full flight you may be contacted and offered a flight change.
American is joining United, which has the same policy.
This is certainly something to be aware of if booking upcoming travel…