Delta will continue blocking middle seats through 2021, hoping to restore 'confidence' in holiday travel

The airline is also extending waivers for change fees on all travel purchased before Sept. 30

Delta Air Lines will continue to block the booking of middle seats through "at least" Jan. 6, 2021, once again extending a policy that was announced earlier this year amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

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In a news release issued Thursday, the airline announced the extension of its middle-seat policy, as well as the extension of its waivers for change fees, citing concern for passengers considering holiday travel.

Delta Airlines Airbus A319 (registration N354NB) in flight shortly before landing at the Los Angeles World Airport (LAX).

“Medical experts, including our own partners at Emory Healthcare, agree — more distance on board makes a difference,” said Bill Lentsch, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, in the announcement. “We believe that taking care of our customers and employees and restoring confidence in the safety of air travel is more important right now than filling up every seat on a plane.

"We’ll continue taking a thoughtful, layered approach ensuring customers know to expect the highest standard of care as they prepare for their holiday travels.”

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Delta’s middle-seat policy first took effect in April, in an effort to aid in social distancing within its aircraft. Other major and regional carriers also adopted similar protocol around that same time.

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Under its most current policy, customers in parties of one or two people will be unable to book middle seats in the main cabin, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select sections of all Delta flights. Those in parties of three (or more) will still be able to book middle seats, so as to remain with their group. Capacity in first class, meanwhile, will be capped at half.

Delta is also capping the number of passengers allowed on board all of its aircraft. On planes that have no middle seats (i.e., rows of two seats), Delta will be blocking one aisle.

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In addition to extending its middle-seat policies, Delta announced Thursday the extension of its change fee waivers, allowing customers who purchase flights through Sept. 30 to make changes to their travel dates or itinerary without incurring a fee, so long as the new flights are booked within one year of the purchase date. Fare differences will apply in some cases.