Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Delta to Cap Seating Into 2021 to Boost Traveler Confidence

By Lou Whiteman – Updated Aug 20, 2020 at 12:30PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The airline is trying to be the carrier of choice for families interested in flying home for the holidays.

Delta Air Lines (DAL 8.55%) said Thursday it has extended its policy of blocking middle seats at least through the holidays, part of the airline's effort to differentiate itself and win back travelers scared off by the coronavirus pandemic.

Delta is modifying its policy slightly. The airline will begin to allow parties of three or more to book middle seats to allow families to sit together. But for parties of one or two, middle seats will be blocked to allow for greater distancing during flights.

"Medical experts, including our own partners at Emory Healthcare, agree -- more distance on board makes a difference," Delta's head of customer experience, Bill Lentsch, said in a statement. "We believe that taking care of our customers and employees and restoring confidence in the safety of air travel is more important right now than filling up every seat on a plane."

A Delta plane parked on the tarmac.

Image source: Delta Air Lines.

Delta and other airlines have been grappling with demand issues since the start of the pandemic. Even as states have lifted stay-at-home orders, travelers have been slow to return, in part because of the perceived dangers of contracting the virus at airports or on planes.

The entire industry has tried to entice passengers back by waiving change fees, requiring masks, and talking up cleaning procedures, but Delta's approach on seating is far from universal. The airline is one of only four U.S. carriers still restricting cabin capacity, and the other three -- Southwest Airlines, Alaska Air Group, and JetBlue Airways -- so far have only announced plans through October.

Delta last week said it was partnering with CVS Health to test flight crews for COVID-19 more regularly. The airline appears to be hoping that as families weigh traveling home for the holidays, the extra focus on safety will make Delta a more appealing option.

"We'll continue taking a thoughtful, layered approach ensuring customers know to expect the highest standard of care as they prepare for their holiday travels," Lentsch said.

Lou Whiteman owns shares of Delta Air Lines. The Motley Fool recommends Alaska Air Group, CVS Health, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, and Southwest Airlines. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Delta Air Lines, Inc. Stock Quote
Delta Air Lines, Inc.
$30.68 (8.55%) $2.42

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 10/04/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.