Could middle seats on airplanes become a casualty of the coronavirus pandemic?
Easyjet CEO Johan Lundgren thinks that when lockdown measures and travel restrictions are lifted, leaving the middle seat empty on flights could become an option. This would be one way to keep passengers safe as they return to the skies.
Not everyone is on board with his idea, however. In fact, Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary calls it “mad” and “ineffective.” He adds: “We’re in dialogue with regulators who are sitting in their bedrooms inventing restrictions such as taking out the middle seats, which is just nonsense.”
He has a point. Even if middle seats were left vacant or removed, passengers in the aisle and window seats would be closer than six feet to each other. Many would take public transportation to the airport in crowds that are not socially distancing. And lines to board airplanes would stretch impractically if every person were standing six feet from every other person.
Nonetheless, removing or not using the dreaded middle seat on airplanes would be one way that the temporary pandemic could make a permanent change in our way of life. There are many others.
Some believe that working-from-home practices could persist and even grow when the pandemic ends. They see a renaissance of small towns and suburbs as people seek lower housing costs and costs of living while working remotely. Employees could still commute occasionally to the home office, perhaps while working in autonomous vehicles.
Online shopping is expected to continue and even grow in popularity, as will streaming video and video games. Virtual dating could retain its popularity. And some suggest that stay-at-home regulations could spur a much-needed baby boom.
Finding the joy of Jesus
Using bad for good is a common theme in Scripture.
Joseph’s journey from enslavement and prison to pharaoh’s palace is an obvious example. Another is David’s life-threatening contest with Goliath that paved the way for his ascent to the throne of his nation. Or Daniel’s survival in the lions’ den and the king’s repentance that resulted. Or John’s exile on Patmos that led to his receiving the book of Revelation.
God is already at work redeeming this crisis for his glory and our good. One way we can join him is by remaining positive and hopeful in the hardest of times and places. When people see that we have not given up on our Lord, they may find our faith contagious. When they note that we can “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4, my emphasis), they may seek the source of our joy.
But note: joy is a “fruit” of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is a result of being “filled” or controlled by him (Ephesians 5:18). When we surrender our day and challenges to him, he leads and empowers us. And even when we cannot find happiness (the result of happenings), we can find his joy.
Br. David Vryhof of the Society of St. John the Evangelist in Boston advises: “Send down your roots into deep soil, so that when trouble comes, you can remain steadfast and unmovable, knowing that God always has the final word. And rejoice. Always and everywhere. No matter what circumstance you find yourself in. Easter is Love’s Victory over evil and death; all fear is washed away. You—yes, you!—are a beloved child of God.”
Will others see the joy of Jesus in you today?