Which US airlines are blocking middle seats?

Category: Transportation

Which US airlines are blocking middle seats?

Zach Honig - December 9, 2020

For months, as most Americans limited trips outside their homes, airline passenger loads plummeted to levels most of us could have never imagined. More recently, however, many U.S. states have eased restrictions, and an increasing number of travelers are taking to the skies once again.

While passengers may see almost entirely unreserved seat maps at booking — expecting to find those conditions onboard — airlines are canceling and consolidating flights. In some cases, that results in an aircraft that is more full than expected, making social distancing difficult.

U.S. airlines have been continuously updating their social distancing policies and rolling out requirements aimed at avoiding the spread of germs in-flight.

Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter for more airline news!

However, without firm requirements from the federal government, policies differ significantly from one carrier to the next, creating a lot of confusion among travelers. Some of the procedures we’re seeing include:

  • Aircraft fogging and daily deep cleans
  • Blocking seats to encourage social distancing (dates vary by airline; see below for your carrier)
  • Compulsory face coverings for passengers and/or crew

While it’s important to check with your airline as things can change by the day, here’s what you can expect when traveling on each U.S. carrier:

AirlineMasks availableMasks requiredCleaning before every flightMiddle seats not sold
AlaskaYesYesYesEnds Jan. 6
HawaiianYesYesEnds Dec. 16
Sun CountryYes

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

Let's Get Started

Click here to contact a travel expert