Delta to Stop Blocking Middle Seats Starting May 1
The airline also announced it will be bringing back select food and beverage options as well as extending the validity of expiring tickets.
Delta Air Lines will no longer block middle seats on its aircraft, becoming the last U.S. carrier to eliminate the pandemic-era practice, the airline shared with Travel + Leisure on Wednesday.
Starting May 1, Delta will open up all seats to passengers, a full year after the airline started blocking the middle seat to give travelers more room to socially distance. Earlier this year, Delta extended the practice through April.
"While Delta's decision to block middle seats has given many customers a reason to choose Delta over the past year, the signature hospitality of our employees and the experiences they deliver to customers every day have also deepened their trust in our airline," Delta's CEO, Ed Bastian, told T+L in a statement. "The relationships we've built, together with the knowledge that nearly 65% of those who flew Delta in 2019 anticipate having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, are what's giving us the assurance to offer customers the ability to choose any seat on our aircraft, while also introducing new services, products, and rewards to support the journey."
While passengers will be able to sit anywhere on the aircraft, the federal government still requires all travelers to wear face masks when on public transportation, including on planes.
In addition to opening up more seats, Delta will bring back snacks to its planes starting April 14, offering Coca-Cola beverages, almonds, Clif Bars, and — of course — Biscoff cookies on domestic and select short-haul international flights.
In June, the airline will extend its selection to hot food options for Delta One and First Class flights on select domestic coast-to-coast routes, and offer fresh boxed meals for First Class customers on other U.S. routes in early July.
For those who aren't quite ready to fly, Delta is extending the validity of expiring tickets. Any ticket set to expire in 2021 will now be extended to Dec. 31, 2022, while any ticket purchased in 2021 will also be extended through the end of 2022.
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.