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Delta Social Distancing Decision: Do Away with the Middle Seat

Delta Air Lines does the practical thing when it comes to designs in social distancing onboard; also pauses auto upgrades for Medallion members

April 9, 2020

Delta Air Lines is blocking middle seat occupancy starting Monday as a protective measure to promote social distancing on all its flights. The measure is expected to continue through May 31.

Staying in Assigned Seats

An aircraft’s safe operation requires a balanced distribution of weight inside the cabin. To balance needs of aircraft weight and balance with the desire of customers to practice social distancing, customers will need to be seated within the same class of service and within three rows (in front or behind) of their assigned seat.

Delta says its new safety policies can be explained here:

• We are blocking middle seats in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort+ and Delta Premium Select across all flights. When booking your future seat selection via the Fly Delta App or online, middle seats will be shown as unavailable.

• We are reducing the number of customers on each flight.  

• We are pausing automatic, advance Medallion Complimentary Upgrades. These will now be processed at the gate – still in priority order – to allow gate agents to determine how to best seat customers while considering social distancing and aircraft weight-and-balance restrictions. 

• Customers who want to practice social distancing can explore options via the Fly Delta App or at Customers who prefer to be seated directly next to travel companions and family members or needing additional assistance should contact Reservations ahead of travel or talk to a Delta agent upon arriving at the gate.  

Safety Standards are already in place:

In addition to transforming cleanliness across aircraft and airports to deliver our new Delta Clean standard for the long term, Delta has already taken the following steps over the last few weeks to help customers practice social distancing:

• Streamlining food and beverage service on board all U.S. domestic and international flights to decrease touch points between customers and crew.  

• Boarding customers 10 at a time, reminding them to add extra space as they board, and working with customers to find a new seat within their cabin if needed and as space allows.

• Connecting with customers onboard after the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet, to help them find a new seat while complying with weight-and-balance restrictions.

Extending the ability to plan, re-book and travel for up to two years – giving Delta customers some extra breathing room for changes.  

For more details on how Delta customers can practice social distancing, visit