As airlines struggle to balance earning a profit and maintaining customer service – it’s clear each airline is taking a different approach.
Some airline companies are packing planes full of people to maximize short-term profit, while others are hoping to gain long-term customer loyalty by limiting flight capacity (and even blocking out the dreaded middle seat).
But depending which airline you choose, you’re bound to have a radically different experience each flight.
So which airline is the most customer friendly?
And which one should you avoid at all cost?
Here’s a breakdown on the latest airline policies.
Delta cares about keeping their loyal customer base happy – and it shows.
They’re willing to take a short-term financial hit by capping the number of seats at 60 percent in the main cabin and 50 percent in first class to give people some breathing room on the plane.
Delta has also committed to blocking all middle seats through September 30th and happily provides each passenger hand-sanitizing wipes and a snack bag.
And to show their commitment to cleanliness, Delta even launched a new Global Cleanliness division which will up their cleaning game even more.
Our editor recently flew cross country with Delta and gave Delta a passing grade.
And demonstrating the complete opposite of maintaining traveler loyalty, flying American Airlines during a pandemic is like flying American Airlines any other time… an awful experience.
Instead of giving space between passengers, American Airlines is packing them in like sardines, middle seat and all.
Apparently social distancing is selective and they choose which CDC guidelines they’ll enforce.
Want to be a rebel and take off your mask once you are on the plane?
In a recent press release, American Airlines threatened you may be denied future travel with them should you violate their mandatory mask policy.
“American, like other U.S. airlines, already requires customers to wear a face covering while on board aircraft. American already enforces this policy at the gate and will deny boarding to customers who don’t comply. American now may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering.”
A recent video revealed the first victim of their ridiculous mask policy and shows American Airlines kicking the passenger off the plane for refusing to wear a mask. The passenger was accused of breaking the law and removed for not “complying” with American Airlines mask policy.
It was only after he was removed, the passenger communicated to airline staff that he did in fact have a medical condition, but instead of letting the issue go, American Airlines proceeded to ask him to disclose his medical condition.
The American Disabilities Act clearly protects passengers from having to publicly disclose their medical condition – but American Airlines didn’t care.
After reviewing the case, instead of issuing a rightful apology, American Airlines actually banned the guy from flying for as long as the mask policy is required!
ABC News reported:
“American Airlines thoroughly reviewed an incident on June 17 involving one of our customers, Brandon Straka,” the airline said in a statement. “As a result of this review, Mr. Straka will not be permitted to fly American, as he failed to comply with our stated policy and crewmember instructions.”
“We expect customers who choose to fly with us to comply with these policies, and if necessary, we will deny future travel for customers who refuse to do so,” the statement continued. “Restricting travel is a step we take very seriously, and it will only occur after a comprehensive review of the facts of an incident. Mr. Straka will be permitted to fly with us once face coverings are no longer required for customers.”
So basically, people are allowed to fly with whatever “emotional support” animal they want, but a guy with a medical condition is banned from flying?
The hypocrisy is breathtaking – no pun intended.
This past April, United boasted it would block all middle seats on all aircrafts to help maintain proper social distancing measures.
But of course, in typical United style, their policy changed and claimed they would limit seat selections “where available.”
Which basically means they’re still packing planes.
In fact, just days after United vowed to block middle seats, passengers took to social media to post pictures of jam-packed planes – with every seat full.
United recently updated their policy admitting passengers are finding the planes “fuller than they expect” and agreed to let customers who are on full flights have the option to rebook or receive a travel credit.
Of course, if you actually read their website, United continues with sketchy language, stating they’ll “do their best” to contact customers “about 24 hours” before their flight is scheduled for takeoff to give them the option to rebook an overcrowded flight.
A 24-hour notice doesn’t exactly help someone who has an itinerary they need to keep now does it?
Oh, and United recently threatened customers that if they refuse to wear masks, a security team will “investigate the incident” and determine whether they’ll be allowed to fly United again.
A United press release stated:
“While the overwhelming majority of passengers are complying with United’s mandatory policy, starting on June 18, any passenger that does not comply when onboard a United flight will be placed on an internal travel restriction list. Customers on this list will lose their travel privileges on United for a duration of time to be determined pending a comprehensive incident review.”
How long could one be banned from flying United?
Of course, those details aren’t disclosed.
Good news, Southwest has committed to block all middle seats through September 30th.
But they’ve also suspended ALL in-flight services. Passengers can bring their own snacks aboard, but they won’t be getting them via Southwest.
And recently, as part of their “Southwest Promise,” they are now mandating customers complete a “customer health declaration” when checking in which basically forces customers to state they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms or a fever and understand they have to wear a mask.
More and more airlines are jumping on the health declaration bandwagon and we can expect to see stricter policies in the future.
JetBlue has committed to keep all middle seats empty through July 4th and has capped flights at 60 percent capacity.
They’re serving pre-sealed snack and beverage bags and providing hand-sanitizer wipes upon request.
Wanting customers to literally breathe in clean air (not sure how that’s possible behind a mask, but I digress), JetBlue has hospital-grade HEPA air filters which change cabin air every 3 minutes.
They’ve also suspended services to 16 major cities like Chicago and Atlanta through the end of September.
Alaska is blocking middle seats through the end of July and capping flights at 65% capacity to allow space between guests.
They’re offering personal hand-sanitizer wipes while on board starting in July and using an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer – vowing to sanitize surfaces like armrests and tray tables.
Alaska even claims their cleanliness level matches a “sanitized environment like a hospital operating room.”
They’ve also jumped on the health agreement bandwagon and as part of their “Next-Level Care Initiative,” they are mandating all passengers complete a health checklist during check-in.
Alaska’s website states customers who can’t comply can “reschedule their trip as long as their tickets was purchased before June 30 and rebooked travel occurs within a year of the original itinerary. Customers may have to pay the difference in fare between the original ticket and the new one.”
Personally, you couldn’t pay me to fly with Alaska, as they still refuse to provide my husband and me a refund for our honeymoon to Hawaii that was canceled this past May.
Hey, there’s a good reason why they have an ‘F’ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
If you want flexibility with travel (and actually any hope of getting a refund should things get even crazier) stay as far away from Alaska as you can.
Some Things Never Change
Don’t worry – TSA is still there to confiscate your toothpaste and make the security process a painstaking experience.
And while safety precautions were supposed to be implemented like having you scan your own ID, they’re still placing their hands all over your stuff.
If you’re looking to fly this summer, be careful which airline you choose. Yes, you’ll be forced to wear a mask – but depending on who you fly with, you could be put on an “internal restriction list” or sandwiched between two other passengers.
So, choose wisely.
But also get ready for a whole new level of crazy!
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