Southwest Airlines will be making the middle seat on their planes available again for passengers beginning December 1.
In a series of tweets on Twitter, the airline said “this decision was not made lightly” and “a growing body of data and research supports that face masks and enhanced cleaning, coupled with HEPA filtration, are highly effective measures to protect against the transmission of COVID-19 in air travel.”
After November 30, we will unblock the middle seat on our flights. This decision was not made lightly, and we'd like to share how we arrived at it. (1/8)
— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 22, 2020
In a statement released Thursday, Southwest said blocking off the middle seat “bridged us from the early days of the pandemic, when we had little knowledge about the behavior of the virus, to now.”
American and United Airlines have been filling their rows for months. Delta and Alaska Airlines are the remaining U.S. airlines who limit the number of seats available into January 2021. Both have publicly said they will continue to block the middle seat through January 6.
“We will continue to take a science-based approach as we evaluate our procedures and policies moving forward and will collaborate with the Stanford University School of Medicine for insights that will help us evolve our policies,” Southwest tweeted.
They also shared recent studies that have shown the risk of contracting COVID-19 on a plane is small, roughly 1 in 27.3 million.