We have all become accustomed to the catchphrases of the times: social distancing, face masks, N95, COVID19, quarantine. In light of the potential dangers, many airlines have sought to consciously create spacing between passengers. Unfortunately, passengers on a recent crowded American Airlines flight say they ‘never felt so unsafe.’ On this crowded flight there was no social distancing.
American Airlines – A Crowded Flight, No Social Distancing
A passenger, who identifies herself as Tammy Gonzalez on Twitter, claimed on May 17 that she had “just” flown with American Airlines aboard a flight from Fresno to Dallas. In the video she posted with her tweet, Gonzalez can be heard remarking that the plane is “so overcrowded,” while panning around the cabin to show what appears to be quite a lot of rows of passengers seated directly next to each other.
Just flew on @AmericanAir flight AA1154 from Fresno to Dallas. Apparently airlines are exempt from CDC guidelines for social distancing. All rows with the exception of maybe 4 rows were completely full of passengers. I've never felt so unsafe in my life. @CNN @CDCgov pic.twitter.com/D67KmZuzvl
— Tammy Gonzalez (@Tamgonzalez28) May 17, 2020
It’s obvious from the video that there are a lot of passengers seated in the main cabin. There are very few empty seats. That’s not what social distancing looks like, which gave Gonzalez reason for concern. Gonzalez goes on to reply to her posted video with “All rows with the exception of maybe 4 rows were completely full of passengers. I’ve never felt so unsafe in my life.” Gonzalez added that she found it “sickening” that American Airlines would “put our lives at risk to make money off a couple extra seats.”
What was American Airlines’ response?
Gonzalez received a lot of negative comments on her tweet challenging why she flew in the first place.
However, American Airlines is not following their own stated policies. American instituted a policy of requiring passengers to wear face masks on all flights beginning May 11.
But check out the passenger in Gonzalez’ video:
Clearly that guy is not wearing a face mask and American Airlines is not enforcing their own policies. That simply jeopardizes everyone around such people.
Even More Safety Concerns on American
Consider this recent tweet, showing an American Airlines flight attendant not wearing any facial mask. The passenger also claims the flight attendant allowed passengers to remove their protective face masks.
The 5/18 @AmericanAir Flt 1275 DCA>LAX: despite AA #Covid_19 policy, selfish flight attendant wore no mask, led others on board to take theirs off too. Your policy is to ease consumer fears, bring back air travel. In practice, you disregard #covidsafe for convenience & profit. pic.twitter.com/L29f3GwqJK
— Derek W. Beck (@derekwbeck) May 19, 2020
Other Airlines Are Getting Serious About Health Policies
Contrast this with what the major US airline policies currently state. American, Delta, United, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska Airlines now require all passengers to wear a face mask
Frontier Airlines chief Barry Biffle stated of passengers refusing to wear masks, “if someone is uncompliant, we will eventually divert an airplane.”
JetBlue just announced that they will extend their seat blocking policy, and even made it more strict and better.
It seems, from these recent images that American Airlines may think the pandemic is over.
United Airlines: No Social Distancing on Doctor’s Flight
This isn’t the first time passengers have raised concerns of crowding during the COVID19 crisis.
— Ethan Weiss (@ethanjweiss) May 9, 2020
Dr. Weiss also stated “We are about to land & I just wanted to say a few things. 1) people on this plane are scared/ shocked. 2) I have no idea why most of them are traveling. 3)I am with a group of 25 nurses and doctors who have been working in NYC hospitals for the past 2-4 weeks. We are coming home.”
Delta Committed to Blocking Seats for Social Distancing
The airline has announced a commitment to block seats for flights.
Delta Air Lines is building on its efforts to make more space for safer travel by blocking the sale of select aisle and window seats on additional aircraft, capping seating at 50 percent in First Class and 60 percent in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort +, and Delta Premium Select to reduce the overall number of customers in every cabin across the fleet. This change, which is effective through June 30, is the most recent addition to a number of health and safety measures we’ve taken to promote a safe flying experience for customers and employees.
There’s even a rumor that Delta may outfit some of planes to all DeltaONE suites. My take on that is Delta is doing this as a marketing scheme. They are likely hoping that will help them fill planes sooner; providing social distancing. Passengers may be willing to pay a premium if they believe they are getting some form of enhanced safety for the price.
What About Future Travel, Post Coronavirus?
I’ve penned an article on 7 Ways Coronavirus May Change Future Air Travel. Airlines will do a better job of providing better health protections for airline employees. That’s probably here to stay for a long time. Likely, these social distancing efforts are short-lived. After all, airlines are going to have to be profitable very soon.
The travel industry will take extra steps towards screening and sanitation but blocking seats cuts into revenues. In short, don’t expect airlines to block seats as ticket sales increase. The airlines have parked many of their aircraft –even retiring some. Knowing when and just how many to bring back to balance demand is a tricky task.
Air travel is showing signs of taking off and unless there’s a second wave, the industry will slowly pull out of this crisis. In the meantime, we will likely witness several of these crowded flights as flights begin to fill up.
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic situation, frequent flyers may be feeling especially nervous about getting sick during their travels. Although we are told to practice social distancing when we are out, airlines are not held to any legal requirements to ensure that happens on their aircraft.
What is your reaction to these ‘crowded’ flights with no social distancing? Would they make you feel unsafe?
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