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Air Canada

More Airlines Begin Booking to Capacity Ahead of Independence Day

More Airlines Begin Booking to Capacity Ahead of Independence Day
Joe Cortez

Two more North American carriers announced they will start selling middle seats ahead of July’s major holiday weekend. Both Air Canada and WestJet will begin booking to capacity, as other carriers extend their seat blocking policy through the summer.

Two major Canadian carriers will start booking to capacity ahead of a major North American holiday weekend, as other airlines extend their in-cabin social distancing plans. Both Air Canada and WestJet announced they will begin selling middle seats starting July 1, 2020.

Changes Based on Health Guidance and Transparency

The changes come ahead of two major North American holidays: Canada Day on July 1, and Independence Day on July 4. For both Canadian carriers, their moves are based on health regulations, cleaning procedures and transparency.

At Air Canada, the re-opening of middle seats comes as they expand their CleanCare+ bio safety program. In addition, the airline will tell passengers ahead of time if flights are booked close to capacity, and give them the option to switch to a different flight. With these changes, the airline will also resume meal service on certain flights.

“As we rebuild our schedule, we are continually increasing the range of products and services available to safely and efficiently enhance our customers’ travel experience,” Andrew Yiu, vice president of product at Air Canada, said in a statement. “As of July 1, we will be transparent about flights booked close to capacity in Economy Class and will provide rebooking options for customers booked on such flights.”

For WestJet, their decision is based on guidance from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). According to the trade group: “On board aircraft, it is difficult to achieve physical distancing, unless the aircraft loadings are so light as to be uneconomical and would require nil movement of persons within the aircraft cabin.”

In a statement provided to FlyerTalk, WestJet says they are taking steps to keep flyers safe through their “Safety Above All” program. This includes touchless check-in, mandatory face masks on flights, and enhanced boarding screening including temperature checks and health screenings. However, the airline steps short of saying they will notify passengers on flights booked to capacity, or allowing no-fee flight changes.

WestJet’s decision comes as airline leadership announced a major layoff round. Under the restructuring, over 3,000 employees will lose their jobs as the airline consolidates operations.

Other Carriers Extend Seat Blocking Plans Through Summer

Air Canada and WestJet joins American Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines in booking flights to capacity, with the ultimate goal of recovering some of their lost revenue from the first quarter. Other airlines are taking a much more conservative path throughout the usually busy summer months.

Alaska Airlines and JetBlue are committed to blocking middle seats through July 31, 2020, and will provide hand sanitizing products for flyers upon request. Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines are blocking their middle seats through Sept. 30. In a statement to BBC News Delta sent to FlyerTalk, chief executive Ed Bastian noted that their middle seat policy was the airline’s way of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We will be extending the cap on the planes post September,” Bastian said. “Whether it’s 60% [of aircraft capacity] or a slightly higher number I don’t know, but yes we absolutely will.”

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. MimiB22

    July 1, 2020 at 6:02 am

    I do not feel safe flying because of this. So, alas, I won’t be traveling by air anytime soon.

  2. kkua

    July 1, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    Delta will get my money for travelling thru the end of 2020. Their policies makes more sense as the place safety over profits.

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