Delta reiterates middle-seat policy after criticism from United

After a United Airlines spokesperson criticized the safety policy of blocking middle seats on flights, Delta reiterated its stance.

In April, Delta Air Lines Inc. announced it would limit capacity on flights and block middle seats as a safety precaution amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. Blocking middle seats is meant to be a way to institute social distancing on planes, and other major airlines have announced similar policies.

Now, a United Airlines spokesperson says the policy is just a “PR strategy.”

“When it comes to blocking middle seats, that’s a PR strategy, that’s not a safety strategy,” Josh Earnest, United’s chief communications officer, said on a press call Wednesday, per CNBC. “When you’re onboard the aircraft, if you’re sitting in the aisle, and the middle seat is empty, the person across the aisle is within six feet from you, the person at the window is within six feet of you, the people in the row in front of you are within six feet of you, the people in the row behind you are within 6 feet of you.”

A Delta spokesperson did not respond to an email seeking comment on Earnest’s statement. Not long after the statement, Delta offered a tweet reminding followers it has extended its middle-seat policy through Sept. 30. Delta first announced the extension Friday, June 26.

Sky Clubs reopening

Also on Wednesday, Delta announced select Sky Club airport lounges will reopen throughout the month of July. SkyClubs will reopen in Chicago (O’Hare E Concourse), Denver, Miami, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix and San Francisco. More reopenings are expected “as travel increases over the coming months.”