JetBlue has just extended its seat blocking policy for several additional weeks once again.
JetBlue guarantees you won’t sit next to a stranger
Through September 8, 2020, JetBlue is promising that you won’t sit next to a stranger on a flight. Until recently this policy was valid through July 31, while this has now been extended for several more weeks.
With this seat distancing policy:
- Middle seats will be blocked on all Airbus A320 & A321 aircraft (where the configuration is 3-3)
- Aisle seats will be blocked on all Embraer 190 aircraft (where the configuration is 2-2)
- Passengers traveling together will be allowed to sit together in seats that would otherwise be blocked
The way JetBlue is going about this is interesting, though. If you look at Embraer 190 seatmaps you’ll notice that in some cases they show pairs of seats available.
Presumably this is so that those traveling together can select seats together, and so that JetBlue can sell more than 50% of seats on flights. Personally if I were traveling on an Embraer 190 with someone I’d select window seats across the aisle from one another, so that we’d have the whole row to ourselves.
I would assume that if someone is traveling alone and selects a seat in a row that shows a vacant seat pair, the other seat would be blocked.
JetBlue acknowledges that even blocked seats won’t give people six feet of distance on planes, though some distance is still better than no distance. Therefore the seat blocking is in addition to JetBlue’s policy of requiring passengers to wear face masks, as it was the first US airline to announce such a policy.
JetBlue’s “Safety from the Ground Up” program
Seat blocking is only one of JetBlue’s many measures to keep passengers and employees safe, with what the airline calls the “Safety from the Ground Up” program.
JetBlue notes the following initiatives it’s taking to keep 23,000 crew members safe:
- Conducting temperature checks for pilots and flight attendants
- Providing paid sick leave and additional time off programs so employees do not come to work sick
- Following company-wide protocols for reporting cases of the coronavirus, notifications, and return to work clearance
- Providing disinfectant kits for pilot use on the flight deck
- Requiring face coverings for all employees while boarding, in flight, and when physical distancing cannot be maintained
Furthermore, JetBlue is implementing the following policies to ensure social distancing:
- Requiring face coverings for all customers during check-in, boarding, and inflight
- Blocking middle seats on larger aircraft and aisle seats on smaller aircraft for those not traveling together
- Providing the most space between each row of seats in economy of any US airline and spacious seating on all aircraft
- Providing touchless check-in and boarding experiences using the JetBlue mobile app and self-boarding gates for many flights
- Implementing a back-to-front boarding process for most passengers to minimize passing in the aisle
- Adjusting on board service including pre-sealed snack and beverage bags in economy, and pre-packaged fresh meals in Mint
- Using personal devices as remotes for seatback screens on select planes
JetBlue will make sure that no one sits next to a stranger on flights through September 8, 2020. JetBlue isn’t doing this by simply capping capacity at 50-67% (depending on the aircraft type), but rather flights could be a bit fuller if there are lots of people traveling together who choose to sit next to one another, as this will increase the number of seats the airline can sell.
Delta Air Lines arguably has an even more generous seat blocking policy, and that’s valid through September 30, 2020. The same is true for Southwest Airlines, which is also blocking middle seats through September 30, 2020.
If you care about having an empty seat next to you, pick your airline wisely this summer. And personally if I were flying I’d go out of my way to select an airline that’s blocking seats.
What do you make of JetBlue’s seat blocking policy?