Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s mouthy boss, put it best: social distancing on aircraft is idiotic. That is of little consequence to frustrated holidaymakers and business travellers desperate to visit their villas in the south of France for the same cost as their trips in 2019.

Biomedically and financially, keeping middle seats empty in aircraft is up there with chocolate teapots. Suppose — wildly — that social distancing worked in a confined space, rampant toddlers kept to their seats, and everyone wiped down overhead luggage after every use. The 2m restriction would mean losing more than middle seats; passengers could no longer be close to those behind or in front of them either. On some industry estimates that means emptying seven seats per passenger.

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