Southwest Extends Middle Seat Blocking to Nov. 30

Thanksgiving travelers will be able to maintain a social distance.

Travelers aboard Southwest will still be able to practice social distancing onboard Thanksgiving holiday flights.

The airline announced this week that it will continue to block off middle seats in airplane cabins through at least Nov. 30.

Although Southwest cabins feature an open-seating arrangement where passengers choose their own seats, the airline has limited the number of seats on each flight sold to promote easier social distancing in the cabin. The empty middle seat policy was due to expire at the end of October.

"As we transition into autumn and the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday season, we want Southwest Customers to have the confidence of knowing that middle seats will remain open through Nov. 30 to accommodate their fall travel plans," Ryan Green, Southwest’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, said in a statement. "Southwest has been operating flights with middle seats open throughout the summer and has added thousands of flights to in-demand destinations to provide extra seats for on-board physical distancing and added comfort."

Southwest interior
Courtesy of Southwest Airlines

The airline has implemented several other safety precautions to help combat the spread of COVID-19 during air travel. Physical distancing markers have been placed throughout Southwest spaces in the airport. And the boarding process is completed in small groups, cutting back on passenger-to-passenger contact.

Southwest will also continue its policy of requiring face masks to be worn in the airport and on the airplane. Airplane cabins are cleaned and disinfected both every night and between flights, although the cleaning procedure has changed over the past few months as the airline reintroduces more flights to its schedule after the COVID shutdown.

Delta Air Lines will also continue its seat blocking policy, blocking off middle seats in the cabin through Jan. 6, 2021, according to the airline’s website. Both American and United have already lifted their middle seat block policies.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at

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