Delta Air Lines has been filling middle seats over the Easter weekend to keep up with demand, despite previously extending its ‘no middle seat’ policy through the end of the month.
The popular American airline has seen its highest numbers of passengers since the pandemic began over the weekend, but due to staff shortages had to cancel a significant number of flights.
Delta Filling Middle Seats Over Busy Easter Weekend
Delta has seen over one million passengers over the weekend, which is the highest number of customers the company has seen since the pandemic started. But, they had to proactively cancel nearly 100 flights over the Easter weekend due to pilot staffing challenges.
In a statement to The Points Guy, Delta said the cancellations were due to staffing hurdles.
“Delta teams have been working through various factors, including staffing, large numbers of employee vaccinations and pilots returning to active status. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and the majority have been rebooked for the same travel day.”
The company had to unblock middle seats on Sunday and Monday flights to help offset the number of displaced passengers.
Upset passengers have taken to social media to criticize the airline’s decision to unblock middle seats, as the airline previously said they would keep them blocked until the end of the month.
No Middle Seat Policy Will End Permanently in May
The practice of blocking middle seats on airplanes became popularized at the height of the pandemic in an effort to maintain social distancing on-board.
Many U.S. airlines adopted the practice during the pandemic, though it has since been abandoned by all major airlines except for Delta.
However, Delta announced this week that as of May 1st, they will no longer be blocking off middle seats. The company said that their internal research showed that 64% of Delta customers anticipate having at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, and that number will increase to 75% by Memorial Day weekend.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that it is safe for vaccinated Americans to travel in the U.S. and abroad.
Delta is Bringing Back Food and Lounge Services
The airline also announced that it will be introducing a newly designed snack and beverage service on all flights as a first step in bringing back more onboard food options.
The airline will resume snack services on April 14th. By early June, hot meals will be offered in the Delta One and first-class cabins on some transcontinental flights.
Additionally, the airlines will re-open almost all the Delta Sky Clubs by July, including brand new clubs in Fort Lauderdale and Tokyo-Haneda.
The company is also unveiling new digital travel tools to make travel requirements easier, as well as offering generous SkyMiles Status accelerators and more time for customers to use eCredits they may have received over the last year.
Several COVID-19 safety protocols will remain in place, including disinfection protocols. Masks will continue to be required for all passengers flying on Delta, and the crew will enforce that.
In the statement, CEO Delta Ed Bastian said:
“Don’t confuse these actions with a return to “normal.” 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.”
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com