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Delta Leaves Middle Seats Empty As Others Fill Them

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Airlines are a lot like tech companies. A mere few hold almost all the power. Just as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft dominate tech, four airlines -- American, United, Delta, and Southwest -- own more than 80% of all the nation's seats. Yet here we are in a pandemic, where management approaches in all businesses are being severely tested. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how United Airlines is planning to resume its flights from San Francisco to Shanghai -- a route often… (www.zdnet.com) 기타...

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smoothy58
Just flew Delta this week. As others have stated, they are serious about aircraft cleanliness and distancing. Agree that their cautious approach during this time will gain them customer loyalty in the future.
aragogando
I have flown both Delta and American since this started and the difference between the two as far as the handling of cleaning and social distancing was night and day. Next time I have to fly during this it will be on Delta.
vermaas
vermaas 27
Southwest and Delta both try to do the best they can for social distancing. Flyers like me vote with their wallet and support companies that try to do their best, even if it is not perfect and my neighbor is likely to be less than 6 ft away.
OfficialTron117
agreed. even if southwest and delta are hurt by this in the long run they will have a dedicated passenger base to fall back on because they put us first during this rough time.
WhiteKnight77
I am not necessarily a fan of Delta, but this is a good thing.
smw52453
We had to fly some business trips both international and domestic. In these uncertain pandemic time Delta is by far the airline to fly. Its distancing and other similar policies make us feel more comfortable and safer while flying.
ADXbear
ADXbear 11
Awesome.. thank you my former company.. always seem to do the right thing for people and employees..

Go Delta..
timmer0823
You don’t need scientific data to prove that 50 fewer people on an airplane equals 50 less chances of spreading Covid! It’s a numbers game more than a distance game. I fly for a living and often ride commercial to get back home or onto my next gig. Over the past ten years I have chosen to book Delta or Southwest over any other airline for the exact reasons mentioned in this article. Customer service is a huge factor for the flying public when determining which airline to fly. Next time you board an airplane pay attention to the attitudes and actions of the Flight Attendants and you will understand what I am talking about. American and United could learn a lot from Delta and Southwest!
vanalstyne
It is awesome how Delta leadership has the long-view and the wisdom to take the steps they take, as they are surely going to bring Delta out of the pandemic as the world's #1 airline. Brilliant on their part!!!!!
Relics
Relics 7
Delta all the way, always. They try to do right even in troubling times.
dornhetzel
I've always chosen Delta, since 1968, and I expect I always will.
davebartell
I like the comparison of Apple>Delta and Facebook/Google>others, where Apple leans toward privacy/security as a differentiator. However, we need data & analysis to say with certainty if leaving middle seats open reduces the spread of disease. (COVID or common cold).
topgunnh
I would think that leaving the middle seat open would reduce the spread of disease much better than filling EVERY seat on the plane!
mfejfar1
m f 7
Delta is working with Mayo Clinic to advise on best practices.
bdjam
Alaska Airlines is also keeping the middle seat vacant...at least for now
mfejfar1
m f 2
Not really true. They don't have a hard cap like Delta.

From Alaska's website, "There can be occasions where extra space cannot be guaranteed due to unforeseen changes such as reaccommodating guests from a previously canceled flight."
666adt
"There are few known cases of transmission of coronavirus inside an airplane. Contact tracing after a flight March 31 between the U.S. and Taiwan with 12 symptomatic Covid-19 passengers on board revealed no onboard transmission among 328 other passengers and crew, according to an IATA report. A flight from China to Canada with one symptomatic passenger revealed no onboard transmission. However, preliminary research on a London-to-Vietnam flight on March 2 suggests that one passenger likely infected 14 others, 12 of whom were seated nearby.

Airlines say there haven’t been unusually high infection rates for flight attendants, who spend much more time in airplane cabins than most travelers. At American, flight attendants make up 21% of the workforce and 20% of the Covid-19 cases, says David Seymour, chief operating officer. And 40% of the Covid cases among flight attendants are people who haven’t been to work in 14 days or longer.

“If there were problems, the data would show it,” Mr. Seymour says.

Scientific studies over many years looking at previous virus outbreaks, as well as the current pandemic, suggest that viral transmission between passengers on planes is low on the whole."

https://on.wsj.com/39psZql
dornhetzel
All the flight attendants I have seen, and those I know, have been taking every possible precaution. *That* accounts for a good bit of the reason they aren't dropping like flies.
LowOrbitTraveler01
With aircraft cabin recycled air the passengers at the left and right cabin windows are breathing a percentage of the same air whether the middle seat is open or blocked.

Some aircraft types provide for turning off the recirculating air fans due to air quality. It is not an abnormal procedure. Fresh pressurized air comes in and dirty air goes out.

Flying for long hours with recycled cabin air and wearing a mask results in poor oxygen intake in my opinion.

For the time being I plan to avoid Air Terminals and aircraft air travel.
mfejfar1
m f 6
You don't know what you're talking about.

Recirc fans help the packs cycle air through the HEPA filters. Air moves from top to bottom and front to back.
LowOrbitTraveler01
40 years in aviation. 22,843 logged hours. AD-6, AD-7,DC-6, DC-7, DC-10, Electra,707, 720, 727,747,757,767,777.
mfejfar1
m f 6
Doesn't change the fact you're wrong.

Air moves top to bottom and front to back whether the recirc fans are on or off. Turning them off just slows down the airflow. Not a single fleet at Delta turns off the recirc fans. It's better to leave them on and keep the air moving through the HEPA filters.

Fresh air still enters the cabin from the packs. Recirc fans simply help the packs move more air.
dornhetzel
This is true, but (a) the fraction of recycled air vs fresh air can generally be controlled within a range, and I believe Delta and other good operators are running quite a lot more fresh than normal during these times. Also (b) the recycled air is also in most cases passing through a HEPA filter on the way back around, and this should stop or at least seriously limit the recirculating of virus particles. Of course, if the person two seats from you has a coughing fit, and is positive, you need local protection as well, which is why I'm only flying with a proper N95 mask at minimum for now.
mfejfar1
m f 4
a) incorrect. They're using the same procedures as always for airflow. b) 100% of the recycled air goes through the HEPA.

SARS doesn't float around like dust. It's attached to droplets that fall. So the only way you're getting infected on a plane is someone close to you coughs/sneezes/breathes in your direction. So yes, if the person two seats over turns to you and sneezes, and for some reason REMOVED their mask, then you would need an N95.
dornhetzel
I wasn't saying the control the percentage of recycled air that goes through the HEPA filters, that should always be 100%. I was saying they have some control over how many CFM of fresh air they inject, vs how many CFM of air is recycled through the filters. Yes, compressing fresh air from the lower pressure outside takes work (energy), so some airline skimp on that. I am fairly sure that Delta is not skimping at all nowadays, but is injecting at or near the maximum CFM of fresh outside air possible...
mfejfar1
m f 1
I see. Yes that's somewhat correct. Only thing is, the ratio can't be changed aside from turning off the recirc fans. Which, as discussed elsewhere, would actually result in less total CFM moving through the cabin (ironically enough) and would require more bleed air to balance out.

Bleed air alone results in 100% fresh air, but at a very low CFM rate. Adding the recirc fans dramatically boosts CFM flow while reducing the load on the engines. And since all recirculated air passes through a HEPA filter, the overall safety is increased due to the increased speed of the air being replaced in the cabin. On average the entire volume of the cabin is replaced every two minutes with everything running normally.
dornhetzel
Yes, I don't worry about the safety of the recirculated air, only about the dispersion from either nearby or "upwind" passengers (those for I am between them and the nearest return air entrance). That is certainly moderated if everyone is wearing a cloth mask, but since I have a small supply of proper N95 masks, I am saving them for my job required air travel...
mfejfar1
m f 1
Understandable. N95 certainly doesn't hurt. Luckily the only pax you have to worry about are the ones pointed right at you, which is pretty much no one since the middle seat is empty. And since air flows primarily top to bottom, there really isn't a "downwind" to worry about (The front to back portion is very slow).
dornhetzel
Yeah, and the passenger directly behind, who takes off their mask for a drink, and then coughs a big cloud over the top of the seat in front of them, which puts it all over me :) Hence the N95 :)
mfejfar1
m f 1
Boy I would think the chances are pretty small for that to happen on a Delta flight.

They're banning those types of people.

I suppose it could happen by accident, but even then they'd have to be caught by surprise by their own cough. So you're talking about a single cough aimed up and over your seat back. I don't think I've ever seen anyone cough up before!
dornhetzel
Well, yes, not a huge chance, but I've definitely seem people cough on flights pretty heavily. Presumably someone who knew they were sick or feverish wouldn't board, but they do seem to mostly be relying on *asking* people, and some might not know, or might not care (some people are just that way), so I figure having some backup just in case isn't a bad idea :)
mfejfar1
m f 1
Fair enough. I have to travel for work also. I'm just happy I'm able to do it on Delta. They're definitely a tier above everyone else.
dornhetzel
Yep, been flying Delta since 1968 (when I was 6). North of 2 MM on Delta and not 10 segments on other airlines in my life :)
mfejfar1
m f 1
Wow! That's impressive. I've got a couple more years to get to 1 MM. See you up there.
brentaustinlee
Brent Lee -4
Never do 3 seat rows. If I can’t fly 1stC, I don’t go. cheap-ass tix have ruined air travel. Hoping some airline opts to fly 2 seat rows only & charges higher prices...
mfejfar1
m f 3
If you're 6'2" or less, economy is pretty comfortable on Delta. Especially now with the middle open. 6'3" and you really need C+ or First.
brentaustinlee
Agreed. I’ve done C+ & survived. Still, when wife & I travel, we like to sit next to each other & 3 row is ok, if middle empty.
You’ve mistaken one of my comments as directed at you...missed approach.
mfejfar1
m f 2
I knew it wasn't directed at me. I was making fun of you for being a tool (your "pissant" comment). Missed approach.
jvdawsey
jvdawsey -1
Well Miss 1stC , some people couldn't go at all if it weren't for cheap-ass tix ... but I agree .. squashed legroom has made all economy conveyance unbearable ...
brentaustinlee
Brent Lee -8
Well pissant, work harder so you can afford it. I don’t want you snowflakes on my aircraft.
mfejfar1
m f 0
Pissant? Pissant!? Pissant.
planeguy53
planeguy53 -5
24-30 inches is NOT going to make a difference!
vermaas
vermaas 8
OK, you take United or American then.
jvdawsey
jvdawsey 0
really ? did you get your email from the RNC ?
planeguy53
Sorry DS, DNC!
paulgilpin1953
30 rows. two seats per row. 60 seats @ 30#/seat = 1800# dead weight.
they are a set. you can't take out the middle seat.
if they were really smart, they would just use the middle seat only for seating.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

andyjk83
andyjk83 6
I personally value the additional space. Even if it isn’t 6-feet, it’s an extra buffer, and statistically- way fewer people sharing the cabin means fewer chances of exposure.

Why would you complain about ANY airline doing something positive? If you don’t feel safe, don’t fly. The rest of us will enjoy even more space.
WhiteKnight77
Would you please turn your Caps Lock off? It is considered rude to use all caps and is also considered yelling.
ADAvViation
Sorry guys and gals but maybe she was just trying to get your attention. if you think blocking the middle does anything to prevent the spread you are kidding yourself. My opinion...It is all window dressing. Just wear the mask.
TMAXJORDAN
Friend of mine flew Delta from LAX-PVR last weekend. The flight was completely full...
dornhetzel
That seems really doubtful, given they've made commitment to clearing middles. I flew recently and as soon as I selected a seat the seat next to it was grayed out as unsellable. Pictures or any other verification?
mfejfar1
m f 8
Your friend wasn't on Delta then. They have a hard cap and won't go above it for any reason.
andyjk83
andyjk83 4
Absolutely untrue.

Every Delta flight is limited to 60% capacity and considered “full.”

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