US Airline Policies in Response to COVID-19
COVID-19 has forever changed the way we travel, and airlines around the world have overhauled their policies to cope with the pandemic. For a while, air travel came to a screeching halt, and airports resembled ghost towns instead of hubs of intrepid explorers.
However, there seem to be signs of life with airlines gradually adding more routes due to the uptick in travel. Some countries have started opening their doors to visitors from places that have controlled the spread of coronavirus, and travelers have responded by gradually flying more.
The main question to ponder now is what the overall flying experience will entail for customers. There remains a level of uncertainty for flyers, and that’s where we want to put you at ease for your next adventure.
Let’s take a look at Delta, one of America’s biggest airlines, and see what policies they’ve enacted to manage COVID-19. Afterward, we’ll compare Delta to other prominent airlines in the United States to show you what to expect when you decide to travel again.
Delta COVID-19 Policies
All changes to promote safer travel in the wake of Covid-19 are in effect for at least through September 30, 2020:
· Middle seats are blocked in all cabins on all aircraft
· Select aisle seats are blocked for smaller aircraft
· First Class capacity reduced to 50%
· Main Cabin and Delta Comfort+ capacity reduced to 60%
· International Delta One capacity reduced to 75%
· Delta customers and employees are required to wear face masks during travel, or have covering that shields their nose and mouth
· Face masks are required at Delta touchpoints including Lobby Check-in, Delta Sky Clubs, Boarding Gate Areas, Jet Bridges, and onboard the aircraft
· Customers are recommended to bring their own mask or face covering, but they are available for travelers who need them
· Exceptions are made for children and people with underlying medical conditions
· Aircraft interiors from floor to ceiling are sanitized by a high-grade disinfectant
· Cleaning crews manually wipe down seats, consoles, windows, doors, lavatories, seat-back screens, and any areas on the aircraft frequently touched by crew and passengers
How Do Other Airlines Compare?
Social distancing measures vary by airline, and travelers should read specific guidelines carefully. Although Delta blocks middle seats until September 30th, others are ending similar practices earlier.
For instance, United Airlines and Spirit Airlines have already returned to booking flights to full capacity. American Airlines is the latest major airline to announce flights returning to full capacity as their new policy takes effect on July 1st.
Alaska Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines, and Southwest are the providers that are still blocking middle seats. At the moment, Southwest is the only airline in the United States that will operate at reduced capacity until September 30th.
Masks and face coverings are mandatory across the board for major North American providers. Some airlines, such as Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and JetBlue, have required them since early May. Allegiant Air is the latest to mandate masks with their policy going into effect July 2nd.
The only exemptions include young children (exact age varies by airline) and those with underlying medical conditions. Those who refuse to comply may be denied boarding or barred from future flights.