No more middle seats? Airlines ponder new normal of flying in era of COVID-19

COVID-19 has walloped the aviation industry, which is why airlines are trying to get creative to think about what the future of flying will look like. 
Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Date Published: April 23, 2020

Source: CBC

Airlines including United, Delta, EasyJet and others have announced plans to not book middle seats in their economy class cabins during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, United Airlines says it has started to board passengers in smaller groups at a time, in order to discourage them from clustering together, and has also started to upgrade more passengers into business and first class seats in order to keep minimum distances. United Airlines says the practice will be in effect until the end of May whereas Delta will have a halt in booking middle seats until at least the end of June. The industry as a whole is clearly looking ahead to the future of air travel once the crisis passes as companies are coming up with some concepts for how seating may be arranged on planes to keep passengers separate. However, not all airlines are entertaining the notion that it’s possible to get rid of middle seats. Irish discount airline RyanAir CEO Michael O’Leary noted that getting rid of middle seats would be effectively pointless, and come at the cost of bankrupting airlines by forcing them to permanently fly planes that are only two-thirds full.

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Summary by: Manjot Sunner