Getting the middle seat on a flight is a lot like being a middle child: you get pushed and shoved, you never get first dibs on the bathroom, and if it were up to you – you wouldn’t be there.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought at least one silver lining: everybody’s least favourite place to sit on a plane is getting the heave-ho.
Last week a tweet purporting to show a packed Qantas flight travelling from Townsville to Brisbane sparked outrage here and abroad, prompting concerns that the national carrier wasn’t adhering to the government’s social-distancing guidelines.
This is a on a flight from Nth Qld to Bris today for work.— 😷🐨💧Greenmitty🌳 (@greenmitty) April 13, 2020
What kind of social distancing is this? Pls RT. #covid19australia@Qantas @AnnastaciaMP @MadFckingWitch @vanOnselenP @abcnews @ScottMorrisonMP pic.twitter.com/dAs9TNjPXf
It’s worth noting that Qantas says the majority of its flights at the time were operating at 30 per cent capacity, so social distancing was happening by default in many instances.
In response, Qantas has announced it’s canning the middle seat for the next little while. It comes on the heels of similar moves by major carriers across the globe, including Delta and Alaska in the US, and Easy Jet in the United Kingdom.
Virgin Australia – which today announced it has appointed voluntary administrators but will continue to operate scheduled international and domestic flights – has not made specific mention of the middle seat, but instead said: “Guests travelling on scheduled Virgin Australia domestic flights will have the seat next to them blocked as part of a new social-distancing policy amid Covid-19. Seating arrangements will be automatically applied through the reservation system at the time of check-in.”