Delta will keep blocking some aircraft seats through early January to calm travelers nervous about virus

Key Points
  • Delta is planning to continue limiting aircraft capacity through early January.
  • It will fly its main cabin no more than 75% full starting in October, compared with a current cap of 60% in that cabin.
  • Delta and other airlines have been looking for ways to calm travelers nervous about flying during the pandemic.
View of the cabin of a Delta flight between Minneapolis and Baltimore on April 25, 2020.
Sebastien Duval | AFP | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines will continue to limit the number of passengers it allows on each flight through early January in an effort to win over potential customers worried about flying during the coronavirus pandemic, the carrier said Thursday.

Delta had previously said it will limit capacity to 60% of of its main cabin through the end of September. But after that it will raise the limit to 75% of its main cabin, blocking some middle seats, and will continue to do so through "at least" Jan. 6 in the hopes that holiday travelers will choose the carrier over competitors. It said it would reevaluate the capacity limits at the end of October.

Carriers, facing weak demand as concerns about the virus keep many travelers home, have scrambled to find ways to convince customers that flying during the pandemic is safe.

Airlines' physical distancing policies on their flights have differed, with Delta, JetBlue and Southwest among the airlines temporarily limiting capacity while American and United do not have limits. The capacity caps come at a time of severely depressed demand so blocking some seats this year isn't as difficult as last year's peak summer season.

All U.S. airlines each require that passengers wear face coverings like masks onboard and have banned some travelers who failed to comply.

They have also increased aircraft cleaning and put up physical barriers in some of their airport facilities.

Aviation expert on how the airlines are preparing for fall travel season despite plummeting demand
Aviation expert on how the airlines are preparing for fall travel season despite plummeting demand