Delta Isn't Booking Flights At Full Capacity But Here's Which Airlines Are

Delta Airlines reminded travelers Wednesday they're continuing to make changes to the flying experience during coronavirus. The airline won't book flights to full capacity through September, and no middle seats will be occupied. While Delta is sure of these changes, not every airline has continued to limit passengers even amid fears of a coronavirus surge.

Chief Customer Experience Officer at Delta, Bill Lentsch, told Newsweek it's all about flyer safety. "Reducing the overall number of customers on every aircraft across the fleet is one of the most important steps we can take to ensure a safe experience for our customers and people," he said via email. "Delta is offering the highest standards in safety and cleanliness so we're ready for customers when they're ready to fly again."

In an update on the Delta website, the airline clarified the changes will be enacted through September 30. "Delta will ensure more space for customers on all aircraft by capping seating at 50 percent in First Class and domestic Delta One; 60 percent in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+, and Delta Premium Select; and 75 percent in international Delta One to reduce the total number of customers on board," the airline wrote.

It continued: "All middle seats will continue to be shown as unavailable or not assignable when selecting seats via the Fly Delta app or online. We'll also continue to block the selection of some aisle seats in aircraft with 2x2 seating configurations."

Delta Airlines
A Delta jet taxis to be parked with a growing number of jets at Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) on March 24, 2020 in Victorville, California. David McNew/Getty

Booking at lower capacity is a common practice in the age of travelling during the pandemic and many U.S. based airlines have made similar decisions. JetBlue was one of the first airlines to make changes when they announced they'd fly at 40 percent capacity in March. They were also the first airline to require face masks while traveling, the New York Times reported on April 28.

Southwest has the same idea. The airline is committed to blocking off all middle seats through September 30, with the possibility to extend the decision, their coronavirus outline explains.

Though Delta and others are taking extra precautions for flyers, not all airlines have decided to lower seating capacity. American Airlines announced the opposite on Tuesday. The airline revealed starting Wednesday, they'd begin booking flights to full capacity once again.

American Airlines told Newsweek they're taking other precautions to ensure the safety of travelers in a statement. "We are unwavering in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our customers and team members," it read.

"We have multiple layers of protection in place for those who fly with us, including required face coverings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and a pre-flight COVID-19 symptom checklist — and we're providing additional flexibility for customers to change their travel plans, as well. We know our customers are placing their trust in us to make every aspect of their journey safe, and we are committed to doing just that."

United Airlines and Spirit airlines also don't specify any restrictions on how many people can board a plane. Instead, both are allowing flexibility to travelers who wish to change their flight by waiving change fees.

American Airlines and JetBlue are currently waiving change fees, too. Delta just ended this practice, which allowed flyers who booked a flight on or before June 30 to change their flight for free. This doesn't apply to Southwest, as the airline always has a no-change-fee policy.

All airlines are enforcing Covid-19-based cleaning practices and requiring passengers to wear masks while in transit. Which airline is best to travel during the pandemic comes down to personal preference and comfort.

Updated 7/1/2020, 5:15 p.m. ET: This article was updated to include that Delta previously announced safety measures, and shared them again via Twitter on Wednesday.