Here Are the COVID Placement Rules for Every Major Airline
Many Americans are planning to travel for the first time in the upcoming holiday season, but are still concerned about safety during the pandemic. Here’s a look at the cleaning and social distancing policies of every major airline, including those offering blocked middle seats on flights.
General requirements for air travel
Without federal guidelines on social distancing, airlines are on their own when it comes to COVID protocols, but they are all pretty similar for all airlines. These include:
- Requiring all passengers to wear a mask (except for children under two years of age), which can be removed briefly while eating or drinking on the plane. Be prepared to wear masks at the gate before boarding, during the entire flight and during disembarkation. The mask should cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the chin.
- Six-foot signs on the ground at our gates, ticket booths and baggage claim areas.
- Signing a health care agreement as part of the check-in process confirming that you have not had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 72 hours.
People in the best of times love empty middle seats, but currently only four airlines offer flights without occupied middle seats. However, struggling airlines are ditching flights with empty middle seats, so don’t expect them to last long.
Also, expect more COVID pre-flight tests. American Airlines, United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines and JetBlue Airways are rolling out pre-flight testing services that allow travelers to avoid the two-week isolation period required in some destinations. This is what each airline is doing to make flying easier and safer.
Alaska Airlines says it cleans planes with EPA’s high-quality disinfectant before each flight and will provide masks to passengers who do not have them. Lounges are open with limited seating, enhanced cleaning procedures and altered food and beverage services. Visit their travel recommendations page to find out more. Do they have flights without middle seats? Yes, flights with locked middle seats are available until January 6, 2021, however, extra seat is not guaranteed as seats may be assigned to passengers on a previously canceled flight.
According to their website, the airline cleans planes on a “regular schedule,” as with hospital procedures. Complimentary safety kits are available for every customer at the airport and include a disposable face mask and two disinfectant wipes. Visit their travel recommendations page to find out more. Do they have flights without middle seats? No, although customers can request a notification if the flight booked exceeds 65% of the capacity, as well as a list of alternative flight options.
The airline says it thoroughly cleans planes between flights using an EPA-approved disinfectant. All aircraft undergo a thorough electrostatic treatment once a week. Change fees for First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy Class and Main Cabin tickets issued on or after 3 August for international short-haul flights have been canceled. Visit their travel recommendations page to find out more. Do they have flights without middle seats? No, but for flights for which at least 70% of passengers have checked-in, customers will have the opportunity to transfer to another flight free of charge.
Delta Air Lines
The company’s website says they use electrostatic sprayers to disinfect aircraft with a high-quality disinfectant and then go through extensive manual cleaning procedures to wipe down the surfaces of the cabin. Delta waives change fees for all tickets purchased between March 1st and December 31st, 2020. More information can be found on their travel advice page . Do they have flights without middle seats? Yes, Delta Air Lines continues to block middle seats and limit the number of passengers on each flight (although middle seat use may be arranged for passengers traveling with two or more people) until at least January 6, 2021. The first class cabin has a capacity of 50 people. % before this date.
According to their website, Frontier cleans planes before each flight with EPA-approved cleaning products. Every night between flights, planes are cleaned for four to six hours using a cleaner the company claims is effective against viruses for 30 days. All passengers and crew members are measured at the departure gate with a non-contact thermometer. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will not be able to board the plane. Visit their travel recommendations page to find out more. Do they have flights without middle seats? No, Frontier ditched its locked-up middle seat charging plan last May.
Hawaiian says they thoroughly disinfect all aircraft after each flight using an electrostatic spray with EPA approved disinfectants. Travelers who wish to avoid Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day quarantine can test negative for COVID up to 72 hours prior to flight departure. The Plumeria Lounge in Honolulu and all Premier Club facilities are temporarily closed. Visit their travel recommendations page to find out more. Do they have flights without middle seats? Yes, although your exact seat can be changed at the gate to increase the distance throughout the cab.
According to information on its website, the airline deep-cleans its planes every night using a hospital-grade disinfectant effective against coronavirus. JetBlue offers a COVID-19 home saliva test that can be taken 72 hours before your flight. The airline also distributes personal protection packages that include hand sanitizer and two disinfectant wipes that customers can use on board. Visit their travel recommendations page to find out more. Do they have flights without middle seats? Yes, but this is not guaranteed. JetBlue caps seat sales at 70% until at least December 1, 2020, although the airline no longer guarantees that you won’t sit next to a stranger as some middle seats may be assigned.
The company says they use EPA-approved hospital-grade disinfectant in the cabin, and that each aircraft is washed for more than six hours each night. The company does not charge any flight change or cancellation fees. Visit their travel recommendations page to find out more. Do they have flights without middle seats? Yes, but it will end on December 1st.
Spirit says it uses two EPA-registered disinfectants to disinfect its aircraft. In the first case, a safe, high-quality disinfectant is used that is effective against COVID, and in the second, an antimicrobial barrier that kills bacteria and viruses on contact within 30 days. The company waives change and cancellation fees for customers who book their trip by Saturday 31 October 2020. More information can be found on their travel advice page . Do they have flights without middle seats? No, although the airline says it does not assign mid-range seats at time of booking unless required.
The company says it uses electrostatic spray to disinfect the cabin floor-to-ceiling on all aircraft prior to departure. They also disinfect switches and touch screens in the cockpit with UV-C lighting. In cases where more than 70% of passengers have checked-in, the airline allows customers to transfer flights free of charge. The airline says landing agents will also serve fewer passengers at a time. Visit their travel recommendations page to find out more. Do they have flights without middle seats? No.
Before planning your international trip, make sure you know if your destination requires a 14-day quarantine or additional COVID testing.