Delta extends onboard social distancing policy

Delta extends onboard social distancing by blocking middle seats (Source: Delta)

As the spread of COVID-19 remains a big risk in air travel, Delta decided to extend its social distancing policy. Not only on the ground, but also in the air. This means a limited amount of passengers and some seats will remain empty during the flight. The airline announced to keep this policy in effect until at least January 2021.

Social distancing

Social distancing is nowadays the norm in many countries. That doesn’t go for aviation. At the airport, social distancing policies are enforced as much as possible. However, flights may operate at full capacity in terms of seats. This means that, in theory, flights could depart with all seats occupied, which implies no social distancing at all. Face masks are mandatory. Although there is no common agreement in public opinion on the effectiveness of face masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.


Delta Air Lines has announced to continue its social distancing efforts, especially during flights. In Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin middle seats are unavailable. This means:

  • For customers in parties of 1-2: Blocked middle seats for safety.
  • For customers in parties of 3 or more: Middle seats will appear as available for booking, to allow families and travel companions to select seats together.
Flight attendant cleaning on board (Source: Delta)
Flight attendant cleaning on board (Source: Delta)

“Medical experts, including our own partners at Emory Healthcare, agree – more distance on board makes a difference. 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. 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.”

Bill Lentsch, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Delta Air Lines

Furthermore, Delta limits the number of customers on board all aircraft. For instance, in First Class the cabin’s capacity is only 50%. Delta One will be offered at full capacity from 1 October 2020. On aircraft that don’t have a middle seat, one aisle of seats is blocked. On routes where demand increases, Delta will upsize to larger aircraft where possible or add more flights.

Delta announced earlier to limit it’s domestic network until at least September. Read more on the airline’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 on this special website.


  1. RobertKef says

    Great post, you have pointed out some excellent points.
    This is actually the kind of information i have been trying to find.

    • Mark says

      It appears Delta isn’t honoring this policy on flights between SLC and ABQ. As I sit in my window seat, the aisle seat immediately next to me is occupied by random passener. This has happened in atleast two other places on the same flight. The flight attendants maintain that this is inaccordance with Delta policy. Frequent business and wary travelers should take notice – Delta’s commitment to social/traveler distancing appears not apply to all flights.

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