Southwest Airlines no longer blocking middle seats starting Dec. 1

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Thursday, October 22, 2020
Southwest Airlines to roll back COVID-19 sanitizing
In this video, take a look at the sanitization process Southwest adopted early in the pandemic.

The middle seat is making a comeback at Southwest Airlines.

The Dallas, Texas - based company announced Thursday that starting Dec. 1, it will resume the middle seat on flights.

"Aligned with science-based findings from trusted medical and aviation organizations, we will resume selling all available seats for travel beginning December 1, 2020," said Gary C. Kelly, chairman of the board and chief executive officer. We are pairing this change with enhanced flexibility for customers on fuller flights to rebook to another flight, if desired."

The decision comes after a study released last week by the Department of Defense and United Airlines found that when seated with a mask on, "only 0.003% of particles actually made their way into another passenger's breathing zone." The results have yet to be peer-reviewed.

Kelly referenced the findings in Thursday's announcement, adding, "the risk of breathing COVID-19 particles on an airplane is virtually non-existent, with the combination of air filtration and face covering requirements. The combined studies, research, and counsel we have received, thus far, give us confidence in our approach and timing of this change to the Southwest Promise."

Southwest was among the airlines who limited the number of seats for sale to promote social distancing onboard.

You can read Southwest's COVID-19 policy on their website.

But some airlines don't plan to bring back the middle seat just yet.

On the same day as Southwest's announcement, Alaska Airlines said it would join Delta Airlines in blocking middle seats through at least Jan. 6, 2021.

American Airlines and United Airlines are already selling all seats.

The video above is from a previous story about Southwest's announcement that it will be returning to Bush Intercontinental Airport in 2021.