Budget airline EasyJet is considering leaving airplane middle seats empty once Covid-19 restrictions ease and travelers return to the skies.
The carrier, which has one of Europe’s largest commercial aircraft fleets, said the measure would be temporary and would form part of a package of strategies for safeguarding travelers.
“Based on our discussions with EASA [European Union Aviation Safety Agency] and other agencies, it is likely there may be new ways of operating,” an EasyJet spokesperson said in a statement. “This could include leaving middle seats empty to create more space for passengers.”
The airline said the possible move was still under discussion. “Nothing is decided,” the spokesperson said.
The UK-headquartered carrier grounded its fleet at the end of March in response to worldwide travel bans and the UK’s lockdown measures.
This idea isn’t without precedent. Right now, United, Alaska and American Airlines – currently flying reduced services – have temporarily blocked off the middle seat and are allowing passengers to move seats after take off, in order to practice social distancing.
And when air travel ramps up again, it’s likely passengers will still be nervous about being in close proximity to others in a contained space.
With that in mind, airlines and aviation companies across the world are considering what the inflight experience might look like in the future.
As well as obligatory social distancing, pre-flight temperature checks could be commonplace.
Similarly, pre-boarding Covid-19 tests may be widely introduced. Dubai-based airline Emirates announced this week it has started carrying out Covid-19 blood tests on passengers at the airport prior to flights.
“We are continuing to explore all ideas around what health and safety measures will best protect our customers and employees when we restart commercial flights,” said the EasyJet spokesperson.
“The safety of our passengers and crew remains our highest priority.”