Consumer spending continues to be affected by the coronavirus, and many Americans have canceled or postponed upcoming travel plans. Major airlines have incurred the brunt of the impact, with many receiving bailouts from the government.
But one thing that could be a win-win for both consumers and airlines is increased health and safety measures. In fact, 63% of U.S. consumers are willing to pay extra to have every other seat free on a plane.
That's according to Amex Trendex, a new monthly poll from American Express that tracks how consumers, small businesses and merchants feel about spending, saving, traveling and other aspects of life during the coronavirus.
Airlines haven't officially started charging more for safety measures, but many have blocked middle seats during flights to increase safety for passengers.
Some airlines, like American, have already stopped this practice, making some consumers wonder if they'd be willing to pay to bring it back. However, JetBlue and Delta are among airlines that continue to block middle seats with no additional fees.
If you're looking to book a flight, consider which airlines have increased safety measures in place. Here's a roundup of the major airlines' policies on blocking middle seats.
Through October 31, Alaska Airlines is limiting the number of guests on their flights and blocking seats, however there may be events where this isn't possible, such as accommodating passengers on canceled flights. Guests traveling together can ask gate agents to sit together and may be reassigned seats. Learn more about Alaska's safety procedures.
Through September 30, middle seats will continue to be shown as unavailable or not assignable when selecting seats on Delta flights. Plus the seat next to you will automatically be blocked after your reservation is completed. If your party is three or more people, you still have the option to book seats together, including middle seats. Learn more about Delta's safety procedures.
Frontier Airlines doesn't have any information on seating policies on their site. Learn more about Frontier's safety procedures.
Hawaiian Airlines is currently preventing the booking of middle seats on aircrafts, currently with no end date. Families and guests traveling together can see a gate agent to discuss options to sit in the same row. Learn more about Hawaiian's safety procedures.
Through October 15, JetBlue is blocking middle seats on larger aircrafts and most aisle seats on smaller aircraft for passengers not traveling together. Learn more about JetBlue's safety procedures.
Through at least October 31, middle seats on Southwest Airlines flights will continue to be blocked. If you're traveling with guests, you can ask a gate agent to be seated together. Learn more about Southwest's safety procedures.
Spirit is no longer blocking middle seats and flying at max capacity. Learn more about Spirit's safety procedures.
United is no longer blocking middle seats and instead booking all flights to capacity. Learn more about United's safety procedures.
If you don't feel comfortable traveling with a particular airline right now, but have rewards to use, check and see when points/miles expire. Some airline credit cards have miles that never expire, such as the United℠ Explorer Card and Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card.