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Travel Another major airline is blocking middle seats — but there’s a catch

05:35  14 january  2021
05:35  14 january  2021 Source:   thepointsguy.com

Delta brutally subtweets rival airlines like American and United for not blocking middle seats during a pandemic

  Delta brutally subtweets rival airlines like American and United for not blocking middle seats during a pandemic Delta's tweet, which read "A haunted house, but they're not blocking middle seats," appeared to call out competitor airlines.A tweet posted to the carrier's main Twitter account read, "A haunted house, but they're not blocking middle seats." Delta is currently the only major US airline blocking middle seats as a COVID-19 safety precaution.

6, 2021, Alaska is blocking middle seats . Note that the airline does not guarantee a blocked seat , however, as the carrier may choose to use those seats to accommodate passengers on previously canceled flights. Other measures. The airline has reduced inflight service to limit onboard interaction

Here are the major airlines that have been blocking off seats to maintain social distancing, and how long they say they will continue to do so. The airline is so far the only U. S . airline to commit to blocking middle seats through the first quarter of 2021. Delta said this month that the extension was

  Another major airline is blocking middle seats — but there’s a catch © Provided by The Points Guy
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For months now, airlines have touted their cleanliness and sanitation protocols.

At the onset of the pandemic, it was about blocking seats for extra space onboard. However, airlines have mostly abandoned this safety (and marketing) tactic as we entered 2021. Delta remains the only airline blocking all middle seats through March 30, 2021.

But Delta isn’t the only airline providing an empty adjacent seat. For one carrier, the middle seat is empty — as long as you’re sitting in a certain section of the plane.

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United Airlines pledged to block the middle seat on flights through May 30. The number of passengers caught Weiss a bit off-guard, since his flight to New York two weeks ago Many major airlines claim to be taking steps to ensure social distancing, whether by blocking middle seats or

Should airlines block middle seats ? Scientists agree that middle seats on planes should be blocked . Ali Nouri, PhD and the President of the Federation of American Scientists, penned an open letter to American Airlines and United shortly There ’ s a better solution to these piecemeal policies.

That’s right, Alaska Airlines isn’t selling middle seats exclusively in Premium Class (extra-legroom economy). Here’s how the Seattle-based carrier is taking a unique approach to seat blocking through May — and why elites may want to decline a first-class upgrade.

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In This Post

A blocked middle seat — but not for all

On most of its planes, Alaska sells an extra-legroom economy seat that they dub “Premium Class.” It’s akin to American’s Main Cabin Extra, Delta’s Comfort+ and United’s Economy Plus.

On Alaska flights, the perks typically include up to four extra inches of legroom, a complimentary alcoholic beverage and priority boarding. However, there’s another added benefit on all Boeing and Airbus aircraft through May 31, 2021: A blocked middle seat.

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  Which Airlines Are Blocking Middle Seats During Holiday Travel? If you’re traveling by plane for the holidays this year, your top concern should be reducing your risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus. Of course, the biggest way to reduce your risk is by not flying at all. As the CDC puts it, travel “increases your chances of getting and spreading” COVID-19. But if you must, you should know what you’re getting into. Science is clear that face masks and social distancing work well at reducing infections, and all U.S. airlines have policies requiring travelers to wear masks on board.

Frontier Airlines blocks 20 of its middle seats per flight to give customers the option to purchase a seat that will be more socially distanced. To reduce the probability of exposure to a very low level, “you would need to make the seating density so low that it would be impractical to operate an aircraft

“Even with blocked seats , it’s challenging to maintain six feet of distance between everyone Airlines for America, an industry trade group, released a summary in April of how U.S. airlines are improving “ There ’ s no doubt that these unprecedented times will lead to some major changes in the travel

graphical user interface, application: Blocked middle seats in Premium Class is denoted by the X (Screenshot courtesy of Alaska) © The Points Guy Blocked middle seats in Premium Class is denoted by the X (Screenshot courtesy of Alaska)

Related: How airlines are keeping passengers safe

On aircraft that do not have middle seats (such as the Embraer E-175), Alaska says that this extra-legroom section will not have additional seats left open.

graphical user interface, application: Notice how there are no blocked seats on the E-175 aircraft for Premium Class. (Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines) © The Points Guy Notice how there are no blocked seats on the E-175 aircraft for Premium Class. (Screenshot courtesy of Alaska Airlines)

A seat in Premium class ranges in cost depending on the length of a flight. Alaska says upgrades start as low as $9, with some transcontinental flights more than $100. Elites get complimentary upgrades as long as you’re not on a Saver (basic economy) ticket. More on that below.

Empty middle seats are a fantastic perk, no matter how you slice it. Alaska says this is a “pilot program” as service levels remain reduced onboard.


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Unless there ’ s a last-minute shift, Alaska and Delta will be the two remaining major airlines to guarantee an empty middle seat into 2021. Other carriers, including American Airlines , have been blocking a few select first-class and coach seats for additional space between passengers and crew.

American Airlines ' cheapest ticket options now come with a catch . The airline recently announced that tickets for its new fare, Basic Economy, will go on sale Basic Economy ticket holders will also be given assigned seats only when they check in (which basically guarantees the middle , right?) and will

Related: Alaska frequent flyers have a lot to look forward to in 2021

First class could be full

However, while you may get an empty adjacent seat in extra-legroom economy, you likely won’t get one in first class.

That’s because Alaska is selling the rest of its economy and first-class cabin to full capacity. (There may be some instances of blocked passenger seats near flight attendant jump seats.)

(Photo by Katherine Fan /The Points Guy) © The Points Guy (Photo by Katherine Fan /The Points Guy)

That means if you want the greatest distance between you and the closest passenger, you may want to consider sitting in Premium Class as opposed to first class or regular economy.

You get most of the same perks in extra-legroom economy as you would in first class, including beer and wine and a fruit and cheese platter (for flights over 1,100 miles). However, Premium Class does not receive the snack basket or any option for sandwiches served in first class. And of course, you get a narrower seat and less recline than in first.

All in all, though, service has been reduced for all cabins, so you’re not missing out on much.

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Related: Airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies: A complete list of major carriers

Why it matters for elites

Alaska elites — MVPs, MVP Golds and MVP Gold 75ks — are eligible for complimentary upgrades to both Premium Class and first class on all fares (except for Saver).

By sitting in Premium Class, you’ll likely have more elbow space and decreased person-to-person interactions as compared to first. If that’s of importance, you should consider paying up for one of those seats outright.

Additionally, you can remove the checkmark on the “upgrade to first class if available” option at checkout (or in your Mileage Plan account settings).

graphical user interface, text, application, chat or text message: (Screenshot courtesy of Alaska) © The Points Guy (Screenshot courtesy of Alaska)

For shorter flights where I’m traveling alone, I would certainly prefer to sit anywhere onboard where there’s a guarantee of an adjacent empty seat.

Related: Why TPG’s Summer Hull declined first class upgrades during the pandemic

When a flight is full or relatively full, first class offers more built-in space and separation from nearby passengers. And a seat in the last row of first class may alleviate concern about passenger interaction.

However, in the cases where first and standard economy may have every seat occupied, those in Premium Class will at least have an empty middle seat. That guarantee is a welcome perk some passengers, such as myself, may prefer.

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All of this is particularly relevant if you have to fly now during the pandemic. It pays to monitor the seat map in the days and hours before the time of your flight’s departure to determine if your flight will be full.

Related: You can now earn up to 65,000 miles with the latest Alaska card offer

Bottom line

Alaska is giving Premium Class passengers an empty middle seat as a published perk through May 31, 2021. It may make sense to book this cabin if more space between you and nearby passengers is of paramount concern.

For Alaska elites, that means you’ll want to even more closely monitor the seat map to decide if an upgrade to first class is worth it — especially if you want the guarantee of a few extra inches of breathing (and elbow) room.

Featured photo courtesy of Alaska Airlines.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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