For Americans who would rather fly with an empty seat beside them, there is only one choice now.
One by one, all the other airlines have peeled away from their commitment to leave middle seats vacant and allow a modicum of social distancing on flights.
Not Delta Air Lines. It has decided that it will continue to limit capacity on flights through the end of March 2021.
In a statement, the airline acknowledged that although the policy may not be strictly necessary, it's what consumers want. "We recognize some customers are still learning to live with this virus and desire extra space for their peace of mind," said Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer, in the release.
Delta's rivals are ending their middle seat blockages even as Covid-19 infections rage to ever-higher records.
Southwest will fill planes fully starting December 1, the same day JetBlue's policy ceases with some exceptions. Alaska Airlines will end the practice on January 6. United and American have been booking planes full for months, and Frontier and Spirit never bothered with empty middle seats. (For a complete rundown of catering and distancing policies aboard U.S. airlines, consult our updated list.)
Positivity rates in the United States are higher than they've ever been, but there still has not been any conclusive evidence that current procedures on airplanes are contributing appreciably to the spread of the disease.
It doesn't matter. Consumers still aren't lining up to fly. Delta, as all smart businesses are supposed to do, is reading the market—and for people who are staying away from flying because they're anxious about being crowded, Delta has made its play.
It's now the best U.S. domestic airline for the cautious flyer.