By Alison Fox
Updated November 18, 2020
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| Credit: Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines will be keeping its middle seat off-limits until March 30, 2021.

“Several independent studies have validated the effectiveness of the Delta CareStandard’s multi-layered protection, like advanced ventilation and an extensive cleaning regimen, which together significantly reduce the risk of flight-related transmission,” Delta's Chief Customer Experience Officer, Bill Lentsch, said in a press release on Wednesday. “However, we recognize some customers are still learning to live with this virus and desire extra space for their peace of mind. We are listening and will always take the appropriate steps to ensure our customers have complete confidence in their travel with us.”

The announcement also comes after the airline released an interactive map to help answer all questions when it comes to traveling amid the pandemic.

At the time of an October earnings call, Delta's CEO, Ed Bastian, said no official decision had been made regarding seat capacity, but he had “no doubt we will be lifting those caps” sometime in 2021.

While Delta has been gradually making their way back to normal for certain aspects of flying (like resuming its beer and wine service for first-class and Comfort+ passengers after initially suspending it and reopening its Sky Club lounges), Bastian said the airline has reduced its fleet and workforce and is currently 20 percent smaller than the beginning of 2020.

In addition to blocking certain seats, Delta has increased the number of pre-flight cleaning staff to ensure more employees are disinfecting planes between flights as well as implemented a strict mask-wearing policy. Passengers are required to wear certain types of masks, receive pre-approval if they claim they can’t wear a mask due to a medical reason and are even placed on a no-fly list if they refuse to comply.

Bastian said the airline has had no documented instances of COVID-19 transmission on its aircraft.

“While we still have a long road ahead of us when you look through the large toll that the pandemic has taken, we are showing progressive improvement across the business, performing well on factors within our control and ensuring the company is well positioned as demand starts to return,” Bastian said. “But we do believe it could still be two years or more until we achieve a normalized revenue environment, until then, we will be smaller in the short term, but also more agile and more efficient.”

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.