By Mandolyn McAbee, airwaysmag.com
JetBlue Airways (B6) will phase out its COVID-19 seat-blocking policy in early 2021. All seats will be made available for booking on January 8, 2021. The airline originally began blocking middle seats on its Airbus aircraft and aisle seats on its Embraer aircraft earlier this year. The policy was extended in August, but B6 is now confident enough in the efficiency of its cabin air systems that it will open all seats again.
Joanna Geraghty, President and Chief Operating Officer of B6, released a statement to Crewmembers explaining the decision to end the policy. “I’m proud we led the industry in limiting the number of customers on board to give everyone more space. While this helped reassure customers of our commitment to their well-being when we were still trying to understand this virus, we have always been confident that the potential for transmission on the aircraft is extremely low,” she says.
Recent studies have shown that the likeliness of a person being exposed to COVID-19 on an airplane is “virtually nonexistent.” Like many other airlines, B6 uses high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to clean the air circulating through its aircraft cabins. HEPA filters are capable of eliminating up to 99.99% of airborne particles, which is a requirement they must meet to even certify as HEPA.
Safety from the Ground Up
Blocking seats is one of several ways that B6 is enforcing its ‘Safety from the Ground Up’ program. Launched in May of this year, the program’s goal is to help protect B6’s customers and Crewmembers from the spread of COVID-19. The airline was one of the first to require passengers to wear face masks upon boarding its aircraft and it has also introduced the Honeywell UV Cabin System to its aircraft cleaning process.
In her statement, Joanna Geraghty thanks B6 Crewmembers for their dedication to the new program. “Your commitment during these challenging times is surpassing expectations and has led to some of our highest Customer satisfaction scores ever. This is a remarkable achievement given all the challenges thrown at us and how little we knew about the virus when this started,” she praises.