Delta extends first-class seat blocking through the holidays

Oct 4, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Every major U.S. carrier has launched an anti-coronavirus health and wellness campaign.

Though the details (slightly) differ by airline, Delta’s done a comprehensive job of ensuring passenger safety. Like its competitors, the airline has implemented strict mask requirements and enhanced cleaning procedures. But, the Atlanta-based carrier has done even more to modify the end-to-end travel journey, including installing hand sanitizer stations outside lavatories and rolling out antimicrobial security bins.

On April 13, Delta began blocking middle seats to maximize onboard distancing. The carrier has extended the duration of its seat-blocking policy multiple times throughout the pandemic, and as of August promised more space for travelers through Jan. 6, 2021 — though the capacity cap increased to 75% (from 60%) — notably including the Thanksgiving and December holidays. The capacity change allows groups of three travelers or more to reserve seats together, even if it includes the middle.

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

While the August announcement was welcome news for coach flyers, the airline only promised to cap first class (in a 2-2 configuration) at half capacity through at least Oct. 31.

Delta domestic first class (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Well, there’s good news for those paying for the fancy recliners. The carrier will indeed continue blocking first-class seats through at least Jan. 6. This extension was first spotted on Delta.com and was later confirmed to TPG by a carrier spokesperson.

Like coach, most adjacent first-class seats will be blocked, on both domestic and international flights operated by a narrowbody plane. However, groups of two may select seats together. Note that Delta won’t sell the cabin to 100% even if there are exclusively even-numbered parties booked in first. If you are flying solo in first class, the adjacent seat will remain empty.

Delta One of the Boeing 757 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

This extended seat-blocking policy also applies to the Delta One cabin on the carrier’s single-aisle Boeing 757s. There are no longer capacity limitations on the Delta One cabin on widebody jets, regardless of whether the plane is flying domestically or internationally. That’s because these cabins are “designed with more space and privacy built-in,” according to a spokesperson.

Related: Delta will cap seats into 2021 in bid to reassure flyers

Delta will likewise continue blocking first-class seats on regional jets that feature a 1-2 configuration. With the newly extended policy, however, a solo passenger could theoretically be sitting right across the aisle from a couple. Of course, this possibility is unlikely since it’d require one of the parties to purposely choose a seat across from another party.

Airlines initially rolled out passenger caps and blocked middle seats under the auspices of social distancing onboard flights. But now, blocking seats is more about making travelers feel comfortable.

Solo first-class passengers won’t have a neighbor through Jan. 6, 2021 (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

When the carrier first announced the holiday season extensions in August, Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer at Delta, said in a statement, “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.”

Related: Which US airlines are blocking middle seats?

Delta is one of just five U.S. carriers, including Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines, capping the number of flyers onboard their planes during the coronavirus pandemic. Alaska is blocking seats through Nov. 30, JetBlue through Jan. 5 and Southwest through Nov. 30. Hawaiian hasn’t specified an expiration date for its seat-blocking policy.

Either way, Delta’s premium flyers should rest assured: the carrier will indeed be blocking first-class seats through the holidays.

Featured image by Zach Griff/The Points Guy. Additional reporting by Ned Russell. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.