Airlines are trying to find the right tone to lure passengers back in the skies, with announcements of stringent cleaning measures, hygiene protocols and HEPA filters, which trains, busses and underground transportation don’t even offer. But EasyJet took things a step further, picking up on the trend du jour a few weeks back where passengers seemed to like the idea of blocked middle seats, drumming up huge buzz for the airline by stating  plans to introduce a blocked middle seat on initial flights.

In a “SleazyJet” move, the airline is now backtracking, quickly.

CEO Johan Lundgren went as far as to specifically mention to the BBC that blocked middle seats were  “something that we will do because I think that is something that the customers would like to see, then we will work out with the authorities and listen to the customers’ views and points on what they believe is the right thing to do, particularly in the start-up period.”

The news spread nearly as quickly as the virus that prompted it, hitting news outlets around the world and garnering praise from travelers throughout Europe.

It’s hard to imagine EasyJet wouldn’t have picked up quite a few extra bookings on the “good” health and safety news, as headlines of EasyJet blocking middle seats, while competitor Ryanair called the idea laughable went the other direction. Ryanair has consistently called for increased health and hygiene measures, including wearing masks and limiting contact points between staff and passengers.

EasyJet now states it will follow EASA (European Air Safety Agency) measures which do include mandatory face masks, cleaning and limiting of touch points in flight – aka contactless payment rather than accepting cash – but will not be blocking middle seats. The move will not be music to the ears of many booked onto EasyJet flights due to resume June 15th.

A fair question around cleaning has been levied against budget airlines reliant on quick turnarounds at airports, and EasyJet has an interesting answer on that front. Industry blog Paddle Your Own Kanoo states EasyJet claims their cleaning products protect surfaces for 24 hours, so there’s actually no guarantee any disinfecting will take place during these quick turnarounds, but rather once daily. It all remains to be seen.

Sleazy move from EasyJet?

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