Delta Airlines is getting on my last nerve lately.
If I see another ad touting how they are the only major US air carrier still blocking middle seats, I’m going to scream. Even worse are all the travel agents jumping on the bandwagon.
“Oh, I will never book my clients on any airline other than Delta! I care about my clients.”
Well, I care about my clients, too, and I will continue to book them on airlines that are not blocking the middle seats.
Because blocking the middle seats doesn’t really help that much.
Delta is doing this for the optics and I can’t stand companies that mislead the public in order to pad their own pockets.
While some studies have suggested a lower transmission rate when middle seats are blocked, it’s not the be all and end all of flight safety.
First, let’s chat about flight safety. While travel of any sort increases your risk of COVID exposure, traveling on a plane is actually one of the safest ways to travel. Several studies have shown how the air filtration systems on airplanes actually make the possibility of transmission pretty low, especially when combined with mask-wearing (mandatory on all flights).
One study concluded that the “risk of contracting the virus on board appears to be in the same category as being struck by lightning.” (Check out some interesting articles on COVID transmission on an airplane here and here.)
So, wouldn’t leaving the middle seats unblocked help, too? You know, with social distancing?
Let’s think about that.
The recommended social distancing guidelines are to leave six feet between you and another person.
The average economy airplane seat is 18 inches wide, so an empty middle seat leaves you far closer than recommended.
If you are in an aisle seat, the person across the aisle from you is 12-20 inches away.
The person seated in front of or behind you is about 23 inches away.
As you can see, in no scenario are you even close to the recommended six feet.
Does blocking the middle seat help at all?
It might. Several studies have shown a lower risk of contracting COVID on a plane if the middle seat is left empty. This is more likely due to fewer people on the plane than it is to the distance factor.
Now, I’m not saying that there is no risk of COVID when you fly nor am I suggesting anyone flies if they are not comfortable doing so. However, when you are deciding whether or not to travel, be sure you are considering the facts and not the optics.
The travel industry is hurting and suppliers will do whatever they can to get you to trust them over the next guy. Make sure that trust is warranted.
In the meantime, if you are wondering what it’s like to travel now, follow me on Facebook or Instagram (@travelprochristine) as I head to Jamaica this Friday!
If you are ready to plan your next trip, whether it’s for travel now, 2021, or beyond, you know where to find me. I’ve also listed some great deals below.