“As vaccinations become more widespread, consumer demand and behaviors show us that confidence in travel is on the rise and customers are ready to reclaim their lives,” said Delta’s statement Wednesday.
“Don’t confuse these actions with a return to ‘normal,'” said Bastian in a memo to employees Wednesday. “We’re still operating in a pandemic, and many of the changes we’ve made over the past year, such as strengthening our cleanliness protocols and eliminating change fees, will be permanent. Importantly, masks remain critical to our ability to safely welcome more people onboard our planes, and we remain committed to enforcing these requirements.”
Delta also announced Wednesday that the credits customers received for canceling flights last year, which were to expire after 12 months, have been extended through the end of 2022. The same is true of any tickets purchased in 2021 that were later canceled.
Delta’s move regarding middle seats is not a surprise given that the airline previously said it would keep the prohibition in place only through April 30. People booking flights on May 1 and later have already seen the middle seat available for seat selection on the Delta website.
The airline has not broken down the cost of keeping the seat open longer than other airlines.
“It’s expensive. No question about it,” Bastian told CNN’s Poppy Harlow in February. But the cost of keeping the middle seat open is partly offset by higher fares that Delta has been able to charge, he added.
“People are prioritizing, as they should, their health and safety and comfort as they travel,” Bastian told CNN in February. “And we’re getting a meaningful premium for travel on Delta.”