It is no secret at this point that social distancing plays a major role in stopping the spread of COVID19. As travel picks up mostly because of the vaccination rollout, it seems that social distancing is now harder to achieve. Airlines are now trying to recover their losses from the past year that middle seats are now on sale once again.
CDC announced that those who completed their vaccination can travel with low risk. This time around, the health agency released a study that highly recommends airlines to still block the middle seats despite the rise in travel demand.
According to a study released by the CDC on Wednesday, vacant middle seats can reduce passenger exposure to COVID19. The health agency worked with Kansas State University researchers. The study concluded that blocking the middle seats can reduce the COVID19 exposure by 23% to 57%.
The study reads: “physical distancing of airplane passengers, including through policies such as middle seat vacancy, could provide additional reductions in risk for exposure to SARS-COV-2 on aircraft”.
Selling Middle Seats
Delta is the last carrier that is still blocking the middle seat in economy. However, even Delta is set to bring back the middle seat after May 1. United Airlines also stopped blocking the middle seat while Southwest stopped blocking the middle seats since December 1.
Delta, American, United, together with other major airlines rejected the new CDC study. Multiple airlines deferred to the Airlines for America to comment on the latest study.
According to Airlines for America “multiple scientific studies confirm that the layers of protection significantly reduce risk, and research continues to demonstrate that the risk of transmission onboard aircraft is very low”. International Air Transport Association, in a different study made during the start of the pandemic, supports this claim. According to IATA, “since the start of 2020, there have been 44 confirmed or possible cases of COVID19 associated with a flight”. And according to IATA, over 1.2 billion passengers traveled at this time when they conducted their study.
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