JetBlue promises you won't sit next to a stranger on one of its planes
As travelers slowly begin to return to the skies, U.S. airlines have been implementing new procedures that aim to make customers feel comfortable onboard while also keeping employees and the traveling public safe.
Alaska Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and Southwest have taken social distancing to an onboard extreme, by blocking the sale of middle seats (or their equivalent, in the case of Southwest), and now JetBlue is extending its own coronavirus-related procedures through the middle of October.
Through Oct. 15, JetBlue will be restricting the sale of a significant number of seats, guaranteeing that customers won't be flying next to a stranger.
On all Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft — which offer up to 200 seats, depending on the model — the carrier will block all middle seats from sale, guaranteeing travelers a bit more personal space. On all Embrarer E-190s, meanwhile, JetBlue will block all aisle seats. That's a far more significant reduction, dropping available seats to just 50 from 100.
There is an exception to this policy, however. If passengers choose to sit next to each other, occupying the adjacent middle or aisle seat, that could potentially free up the airline to sell another seat on the plane. In other words, if 10 families of four travelers each request paired seats on an E-190, the airline would only need to block half of the remaining 60 seats — 30 in total — rather than half of all 100 seats on the plane. With companions occupying adjacent seats, JetBlue could then sell additional seats on that flight while still maintaining its "stranger danger" guarantee.
Note that some paired or middle seats may be available to select, so passengers traveling together can sit together. In situations where a middle or aisle seat doesn't appear to be open, a JetBlue agent may be able to assign the adjacent seat to a companion, and if strangers end up selecting seats together, they may be moved apart.
The move comes as part of the carrier's new health and safety program, called "Safety From the Ground Up." Other initiatives include temperature monitoring for working crewmembers, back-to-front boarding, and electrostatic aircraft fogging.
Like most U.S. airlines, JetBlue has already mandated face coverings for all passengers and employees — that policy will remain in place as well.