11 Passengers Forced to Sit Together on Empty Flight

by Zoe

On March 24th, 11 passengers on an American Airlines flight were said to have been forced to sit right next to each other despite the plane being otherwise empty. “They had basic economy tickets, and changing seats would have been an upgrade,” a flight attendant said in an anonymous statement. So, according to American Airlines’ policy, the passengers had to sit in close quarters to each other during a time when social distancing of a recommended six feet may mean life or death.

That same day American Airlines put a new policy into place that would allow passengers to re-seat themselves farther from other passengers in the same cabin class/ticket type, and would also block all middle seats so no one would be seated right next together. Clearly, this had not been communicated to the crew on this particular flight.

This seems absurd when people in New York and California are dying from the COVID-19 illness.

A few of the statements appear to say that the flight attendants did eventually overrule the seat assignments and allow the passengers to sit farther apart.

In anonymous statements to Mother Jones, three flight attendants recounted events on the March 24th flight.

One of the most common complaints among flight attendants was of a lack of social distancing measures onboard. One flight attendant described a March 24 flight that carried 11 people total—all crammed in the last three rows. “The reasoning behind it is, well, they bought basic economy fares, so we can’t put them further up in the cabin, because that would be an upgrade,” she explained. She said that the flight attendants “took it upon ourselves to spread them out.”

I hope as things are getting worse for people all over the world and in the U.S. from the coronavirus, those “in charge” can use common sense to keep themselves and others safe.

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steve case April 3, 2020 - 9:06 am

There maybe rules but there are “best practices”. Maybe the airlines should employ “best practices” when they clearly produce a better outcome.

Drew April 3, 2020 - 12:06 pm

This is exactly why American is the worst airline n the world! Moving them around the coach cabin is NOT an upgrade. Moving them to extra legroom or first class seats is. This company needs to get its act together.

JerJer April 4, 2020 - 9:19 am

Well, that’s utter stupidity, but then it is the USA…

Jack April 4, 2020 - 11:04 am

An anonymous flight attendant said? This story is bs. Unless the flight crew is extremely stupid or incompetent, they would have allowed people on an empty flight spread out following weight and balance criteria. The seating system may have automatically assigned seats together but the gate agent can move people around and the flight attendant can allow them to spread out.


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