Southwest Airlines blocking seats through September 30
In early May, Southwest Airlines began capping how many seats they’d 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 the end of June, but Southwest Airlines now plans to block middle seats through September 30, 2020. That covers the entire summer, and should give people flying Southwest some added comfort and peace of mind.
Southwest Airlines is blocking seats through September 30
How do other airlines’ seat blocking policies compare?
Here in the US, Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest, are the three 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
- Through July 31, 2020, JetBlue is guaranteeing you won’t sit next to a stranger
Other US airlines have much less straightforward policies, largely focused on not assigning adjoining seats in advance, rather than actually limiting capacity.
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 September 2020. This is something that Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest, have all done a great job with (with Delta and Southwest having the policy for a couple of extra months compared to JetBlue).
If you were to fly this summer, would blocked seat policies impact your airline choice?