Southwest to Continue Blocking Middle Seats Through at Least October 31

Citing positive customer feedback, Southwest Airlines will continue to keep middle seats open on all flights through October 31, 2020, as part of its enhanced health and safety measures in the time of COVID-19.

“As part of our Promise, we are limiting seats sold on each flight through at least October 2020 to allow for middle seats to remain open to allow for physical-distancing onboard our aircraft,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement accompanying the airline’s second-quarter 2020 earnings report on Thursday. “Customer feedback has been very positive.”

Southwest allows customers to pick their own seats so families and passengers traveling together can still use the middle seats to sit together.

The carrier is also boarding in groups of 10 to allow for physical distancing on only one side of the boarding poles. Other aspects of the Southwest Promise include mask requirements for employees and passengers and around-the-clock cleaning of aircraft as well as ticket counters, gates and baggage claim areas.

To eliminate overcrowding, the low-cost carrier has been adding flights when demand on a select route nears the 65 percent cap on capacity.

Southwest is one of several airlines limiting capacity on flights this summer to allow for social distancing onboard. Delta Air Lines recently indicated plans to block middle seats beyond September 30 but has yet to announce a specific date.

Now through August 13, travelers can book Southwest flights for as little as $49 one-way and $98 roundtrip during the airline’s latest month-long fall flight sale.

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