With travel slowly resuming and airlines still in a world of financial hurt, Southwest Airlines this week did what experts have long said was inevitable: ditched its coronavirus pandemic policy of keeping middle seats open.
The nation’s largest domestic carrier, which has capped the number of passengers per flight at 66% since May, is selling all available seats on each flight for travel beginning Dec. 1. It’s a move made months ago by rivals United and American. All say flying is one of the safest activities around given hospital-grade air filters, mandatory mask wearing and intense cleaning measures.
Passenger reaction was swift and predictable, with thousands commenting on Southwest’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Some blasted the decision as putting profits over passenger and employee health, and many said they won’t fly Southwest as a result. Others said they understand it’s a business decision.
“I have a reservation for mid December which I will now be canceling. I prefer an airline that values lives over profit,” a Facebook user from Delaware posted.
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