Credit: Unsplash

Middle seats will be available once again.

Since April of last year, when the pandemic began escalating in earnest in the United States, multiple airlines have had to make alterations to how they book seats in the interest of safety. Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines, and Delta Airlines all blocked off the middle seats in rows in order to maximize distance between passengers. As case numbers have dropped and states have begun easing restrictions, most of these airlines have begun to rescind these policies and begin booking all seats again, though Delta was the last holdout.

Today, though, Delta Airlines announced that they would be joining the other airlines in ending the pandemic seating policy as of May 1. According to a survey conducted by Delta, at least 65% of passengers on Delta flights back in 2019 either currently have or plan to get at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, which is the reason for the particular date.

According to Delta CEO Ed Bastian, that statistic is “giving us the assurance to offer customers the ability to choose any seat on our aircraft, while also introducing new services, products and rewards to support the journey.”

Multiple airlines are holding out hope that this summer will give their business the proverbial shot in the arm that they missed out on last year due to pandemic lockdowns. Delta has been trying to create incentives for flyers to get on board with them again, such as promising to honor 2021 flight reservations until the end of 2022 or offering increased frequent flyer miles.