Delta has unveiled several customer experience changes for the coming months, as inflight service begins to return to normal after months of Covid-19 restrictions.

From May 1 the carrier will open up middle seat travel in economy and premium economy on its aircraft again.

Delta has been blocking middle seats on its flights since April 2020, along with many other carriers, but in recent months fellow US airlines including Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines have dropped the initiative.

In a statement CEO Ed Bastian said:

“While Delta’s decision to block middle seats has given many customers a reason to choose Delta over the past year, the signature hospitality of our employees and the experiences they deliver to customers every day have also deepened their trust in our airline.

“The relationships we’ve built, together with the knowledge that nearly 65 percent of those who flew Delta in 2019 anticipate having at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, are what’s giving us the assurance to offer customers the ability to choose any seat on our aircraft, while also introducing new services, products and rewards to support the journey.

“We take great pride in the trust we’ve built with customers by listening and delivering on what they said was most important, and that is the approach you can continue to expect.”

Meanwhile from April 14 inflight snacks and drinks will return, following “an exhaustive redesign process”. Poured beverages will be replaced with single-serve cans in the carrier’s Main Cabin, and tap-to-pay technology has been introduced for contactless payment of onboard purchases.

From early June hot food options will resume for customers flying in Delta One or First Class on select domestic coast-to-coast flights, and first class passengers on other key US routes will receive “fresh boxed meals” beginning in early July.

Starbucks tea and coffee service will return to all cabins, and alcohol sales will resume in Main Cabin.

Delta also confirmed that a new digital solution will be introduced later this spring, offering “seamless check-in, test verification and boarding for those travelling from the US to select international destinations”.

“Our customers have always been the voices that guide us at Delta, and that was amplified during the pandemic,” said Bastian. “During the past year, we transformed our service to ensure their health, safety, convenience and comfort during their travels. Now, with vaccinations becoming more widespread and confidence in travel rising, we’re ready to help customers reclaim their lives.”