How the Two Major Airlines Are Actually Fighting Social Distancing

As travel began to gradually reopen, airlines confirmed they would introduce social distancing measures: blocking seat allocation among passengers and not loading planes to full capacity. However, United and American Airlines have now dropped out and are lifting social distancing measures on their flights, filling them to capacity, including middle seats.

Starting today, American Airlines will lift capacity restrictions , but at the same time will allow passengers to move to an open seat, if any. United Airlines is following suit .

The reason for the change? In any case, according to airlines, underestimating flights is not an effective means of social distancing. As Doug Parker, CEO of American Airlines, said : “Social distancing is not something we can do very well as an airline. No airline can. You may say that you are not going to sell the middle seat, but you are not six feet from the person at the window or in the aisle, much less six feet from the person in front of or behind you. ” (The Centers for Disease Control does not exactly support him , claiming “significant disappointment” with this decision.)

Both airlines say they will warn passengers in advance if their flight is full.

A United Airlines spokesman said most passengers currently choose not to change their travel plans, although the airline will offer them travel credit and the ability to rebook on a new flight no later than 24 hours before their scheduled departure.

United also made it mandatory for passengers to complete a “Ready to Fly” health checklist. According to USA Today , passengers are asked to confirm that they have not had symptoms related to COVID-19 in the past 14 days, that they have not been diagnosed with the virus in the past 21 days, or that they have been in close contact with someone. who have had COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

In addition, none of the airlines will allow passengers to fly without a mask.


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