- JetBlue Airways will not be able to stop the middle seats arriving on January 8, 2021, as more airlines start filling their planes.
- From 2 December to 7 January, flights will be filled with 85% capacity and then 100% capacity.
- Only two American airlines have so far committed to blocking middle seats in 2021.
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JetBlue Airways is joining a growing list of airlines that have planned to fill their aircraft to capacity in the coming months, abandoning the policy of onboard social distancing considered essential to restore confidence in air travel has gone.
From 2 December, JetBlue will increase the capacity of its aircraft by 85% through Christmas and New Year holidays. The airline’s current policy for Thanksgiving travel is to limit it to 75%, which blocks most middle seats, but does not guarantee they are all vacant.
Come January 8, all capacity limits will be lifted and any seat on any JetBlue aircraft can be booked. In a message from the airline’s crew, JetBlue president and chief operating officer Joanna Gerghty said the airline expects fewer full flights during the winter as travel demand usually decreases.
The New York City-based airline is citing a science-based approach to removing the seat restriction, pointing to recent studies at Harvard and the US Department of Defense that show the efficacy of high-efficiency particle filters, or HEPA filters and masks Show use in preventing onboard proliferation of coronaviruses. All JetBlue passengers are required to wear masks at all times except for eating or drinking, as Business Insider recently found in an August flight.
Unhappy passengers booking on JetBlue on or after January 8 can request a full refund. Travel must be booked by 13 November and the latest day to apply for refund is 27 November.
The Transportation Security Administration’s passenger numbers still indicate that one million passengers are flying every day in the US, but are filling up planes as airlines strengthen their route schedules. JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes told Bloomberg in August that his airline would evaluate individual flights until four days in advance to determine if they were financially viable and cancel them if they were not.
JetBlue joins Southwest Airlines, once a major airline to block seats, which will open its planes on 1 December. America’s largest low-cost airline cited a study by Harvard and the US government, as JetBlue followed $ 1.2 in a previous announcement. Losses in the third quarter of billions
Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines are the only two airlines to announce that all middle seats on their jets will be blocked through January 6, 2021, when the holiday travel season is likely to be reduced. Delta CEO Ed Bastian has said that he expects the policy to end in mid-2021
Hawaiian Airlines has been barring middle seats in its aircraft since December 15, and has yet to announce an extension in 2021. A spokesperson for the airline told Business Insider in October that the airline believes in mask use around current science and air filters, as well as its new cleaning practices.
The policy change also comes as JetBlue, announced last month, seeks a return to profit following a third-quarter loss of $ 578 million. JetBlue also plans to add a new aircraft to its fleet next month, the Airbus A220 slated to dramatically boost the passenger experience and replace the airline’s aging ability E190 fleet.