Delta Air Lines, the last major U.S. airline to clock middle seats, has announced it will start selling them again in a month.
The holdout stopped making middle seats available last April at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, as travelers grew concerned about being too close to fellow passengers.
The term “social distancing” was quickly becoming a well-known phrase, and Americans on land and beyond were advised to stay at least six feet apart from non-household members. Airplanes, already known for their tight quarters, addressed the spacing issue by banning sales of those tickets.
Delta’s middle seats will go on sale again on May 1.
“The relationships we’ve built, together with the knowledge that nearly 65 percent of those who flew Delta in 2019 anticipate having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, are what’s giving us the assurance to offer customers the ability to choose any seat on our aircraft,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in a written statement.
The Atlanta-based company cited scientific studies that found that the likelihood of COVID transmission on a full airplane of masked passengers is close to one in a million.
Delta will continue to require its travelers to wear masks.
Alaska Airlines has open middle seats on applicable Premium Class seats through May 31, but that is not guaranteed, according to its website.
Delta’s stock was $48.30, down 60 cents or 1.23%, in late morning trading.