Airlines were Asked by CDC to Block Middle Seats, but Major Companies Are Not Complying

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Delta Airlines Aircraft. Source: Unsplash by Miguel Angel Sanz
Delta Airlines Aircraft. Source: Unsplash by Miguel Angel Sanz

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has caused a polemic in the travel industry after Wednesday’s report. The CDC proposed to airlines to block middle seats to stop the transmission of Covid-19. However, the travel industry doesn’t seem like it will comply with the obligations. 

The study published by CDC suggests that Covid-19 could spread at a higher rate if middle seats are not blocked in flyers. Meanwhile, if blocked, it could reduce exposure to the virus by 57%. 

Nonetheless, airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and Southwest airlines might have a different point of view about it.

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In an interview with Insider, a spokesperson for Airlines for America said: “Multiple scientific studies confirm that the layers of protection significantly reduce risk. And research continues to demonstrate that the risk of transmission onboard aircraft is very low”? 

The trade argued that data from the International Air Transport Association suggests that transmission rates among passengers are low, citing the Department of Defense and Harvard studies.

“Since the start of 2020, there have been 44 confirmed or possible cases of COVID-19 associated with a flight,” IATA found. “Over the same period, some 1.2 billion passengers have traveled.”

Airlines stopped blocking middle seats

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the airline industry to split between companies that blocked some seats against others that didn’t. However, airlines have started letting go of the blockage following studies from the Department of Defense and Harvard. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines is the only big U.S. airline that still blocks middle seats but will change the policy in May . 

Sun Country Airlines which also doesn’t block seats told Insider: “We do not currently have plans to change any of our existing seating policies.”

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve worked closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local government, and our industry peers to ensure we’re maintaining top health and safety measures,” Erin Blanton, a spokesperson for the airline, said.

Henry Harteveldt, an industry analyst and co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, said in an interview with Business Insider that this wouldn’t change anything in the industry. 

“The airlines will look at it and go, ‘Oh, that’s nice — moving along. All the signs are pointing towards a very good summer travel season, at least in terms of demand,” Harteveldt said.