Airline passengers willing to pay more for flights with empty middle seats: report

Renewed coronavirus concerns hit airlines

FOX Business’ Jeff Flock reports on how airlines are faring during the coronavirus outbreak and how the industry responded to Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci saying he wouldn’t fly or eat at restaurants right now.

Airline passengers really want middle seats left open during the coronavirus pandemic, a recent survey has found.

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In fact, customers are willing to pay an average of 16.5 percent more to fly with the middle seats blocked off, HuffPost reported, citing a survey by Atmosphere Research.

Meanwhile, a poll from American Express, Amex Trendex, also reportedly found that 63 percent of Americans would be willing to pay for every alternating seat to be empty, according to CNBC.

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The Atmosphere Research survey also reportedly found that more than 80 percent said having the middle seat open in coach is “somewhat or extremely important,” according to the website.

Mandatory face masks on planes were important to 84 percent of respondents and constant cleaning of planes was important to 85 percent, the Atmosphere Research survey found.

Recent surveys have found that Americans would be willing to pay extra to fly on a plane with the middle seats blocked off. (iStock)

Last month, a research paper from MIT even found that leaving the middle seats empty on planes could significantly cut the risk of contracting coronavirus in the air, Fox News reported at the time.

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Some airlines, including Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines are still blocking off their middle seats, but several others have returned to filling their planes to capacity.

In July, American Airlines announced it would book its flights to full capacity and United Airlines told FOX Business at the time that it would also start allowing passengers to sit in middle seats.

Spirit Airlines’ website doesn’t currently say anything about blocking off the middle seats, but it does say that “some flights may be more full than others.”

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Delta has promised to keep its middle seats blocked off until Sept. 30, Southwest will keep middle seats open until at least Oct. 31and JetBlue has committed to empty middle seats until Oct. 15.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC. 13.03 -0.01 -0.08%
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HLDG. 34.33 -0.07 -0.20%
SAVE SPIRIT AIRLINES INC. 17.28 +0.02 +0.12%
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 27.18 +0.10 +0.37%
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 33.28 +0.26 +0.79%

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