Southwest Airlines blocking seats through November 30
In early May, Southwest Airlines began capping how many seats it would sell on a particular flight to around 67% of capacity.
While Southwest markets this as “blocking middle seats,” in reality Southwest Airlines has open seating, so that’s not quite how it works. This means that:
- There’s still open seating, there’s simply no need for anyone to sit in a middle seat
- Families or people traveling together can still choose to sit next to one another, if they’d like
Initially these seating caps were in place through June 30. Then in mid-June it was announced that seats would be blocked all the way through September 30. Then in late July it was announced that seats would be blocked all the way through October 31. Now it has been announced that Southwest Airlines will be capping capacity on flights all the way through November 30, 2020.
Southwest Airlines is blocking seats through November 30
How do other airlines’ seat blocking policies compare?
Here in the US, Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest, are the four airlines doing a good job with seat blocking. In addition to the Southwest policy mentioned above:
- Through September 30, 2020, Delta is capping flights at about 60% of capacity; Delta will continue blocking seats through January 6, 2021, though in a somewhat scaled back way
- Through October 15, 2020, JetBlue is guaranteeing you won’t sit next to a stranger
- Through October 31, 2020, Alaska is blocking middle seats
Obviously even blocked middle seats don’t allow for proper social distancing, but the idea is twofold:
- Some spacing between people is better than no spacing
- More than anything else this is about making people feel comfortable flying again; right now many people simply don’t “feel” safe when they’re so close to someone for extended periods of time
JetBlue is also blocking seats on flights
Southwest Airlines will only sell two thirds of the seats on flights through the end of November 2020. This is something that Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest, have all done a great job with. It’s great to see this trend continue, and now Southwest is the airline officially blocking middle seats without exception the furthest out.
Based on the flights I’ve taken since coronavirus started, I’d absolutely go out of my way to book an airline that blocks middle seats.
If you’re flying in the coming months, is blocking of seats impacting your airline choice?