Southwest Airlines Will Start Filling Empty Middle Seats in December, Request Refund for Paid Tickets by Oct. 31
Oct 24, 2020
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Southwest Airlines will no longer limit the number of seats for sale on each flight, joining rivals American and United.
The new policy, which means middle seats will once again be filled on flights with strong demand, takes effect Dec. 1, after Thanksgiving but ahead of the Christmas and New Year's travel season.
Southwest said passengers who already bought tickets for travel in December and beyond will be notified via email on Friday and given the option of a refund (not just a voucher for future travel) regardless of the type of ticket they bought. The refund must be requested by Oct. 31.
Source: USA Today
USA Today Coronavirus Study
The decision is based on a new study conducted for the Department of Defense, which adds credence to the growing belief that airline passengers face minimal risk of contracting coronavirus when flying.
The study found the risk of aerosol dispersion – transmission of the virus through the air – was reduced 99.7% thanks to high air exchange rates, HEPA-filtered recirculation and downward ventilation found on modern jets.
On most planes, the air exchange rate is approximately every three minutes and 75% comes from outside the plane, meaning that only 25% of air is recirculated.
"The 767 and 777 both removed particulate 15 times faster than a home ... and five to six times faster than recommended design specifications for modern hospital operating or patient isolation rooms," the study continued.