Southwest, Delta, and JetBlue are limiting the number of seats they sell on each flight so there’s no need for passengers to occupy middle seats.
American Airlines does not. They cap capacity, but still sell enough seats so about half of middles might be occupied. Delta is working hard to gain customer confidence and their seat blocking commitment runs through September 30. American’s much lesser restriction will end July 1.
Bizarrely this news comes out right as the airline seeks to promote traveling with greater confidence.
American is copying United’s earlier move to allow customers on full flights to change their plans without a fee. Spirit Airlines also books to capacity. As American’s President Robert Isom said in 2018,
[T]oday there is a real drive within the industry and with the traveling public to want to have really at the end of the day low cost seats. And we’ve got to be cognizant of what’s out there in the marketplace and what people want to pay.
The fastest growing airlines in the United States Spirit and Frontier. Most profitable airlines in the United States Spirit. We have to be cognizant of the marketplace and that real estate that’s how we make our money.
We don’t want to make decisions that ultimately put us at a disadvantage, we’d never do that.
Delta (along with Southwest and JetBlue) are hoping you make a decision based on which airline offers you the greatest value.
Meanwhile American’s pilots want the government to buy all middle seats so they stay empty, and six other major airline unions are asking Congress for another $32 billion bailout.