“While Delta’s decision to block middle seats has given many customers a reason to choose Delta over the past year, the signature hospitality of our employees and the experiences they deliver to customers every day have also deepened their trust in our airline,” CEO Ed Bastian said in the announcement.
He added that nearly 65 percent of those who flew the airline in 2019 expect to have at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine by May 1, which factored into the decision to open up entire planes. Masks will still be required on flights.
“We take great pride in the trust we’ve built with customers by listening and delivering on what they said was most important, and that is the approach you can continue to expect,” Bastian said in the statement.
In the announcement, the airline touted its decision to keep blocking middle seats “for an entire year to give customers peace of mind.” Competitors opened up all seats for sale last year or early this year.
Air travel has been on a rebound this month, with Transportation Security Administration checkpoints seeing more than a million passengers every day for 20 days in a row.
Delta’s announcement came two days after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky made a plea for Americans to limit their trips to essential travel only. She said on Monday that the country had seen “a steady rise in cases” over the past week.
“We know that travel is up, and I just worry that we will see the surges that we saw over the summer and over the winter again,” she said.