American Airlines rules out social distancing measures

American Airlines said it would fly planes at full capacity starting July 1.

American Airlines said it would fly planes at full capacity starting July 1.
Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (AFP via Getty Images)

Although the United States is still in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that is breaking records in states like Texas and Florida and catch us forbidden to visit europeAmerican Airlines decided to launch social distancing measures on its planes. The airline quietly announced Friday that it will Start fly your planes at full capacity starting July 1.

Interestingly, the announcement was buried in a press release on the airline’s new Travel Health Advisory Panel and a covid-19 symptom checklist, among other safety measures, though passengers are extremely likely to want to know if the company’s planes will be more crowded next time. week. American said it would continue to notify customers if they were booking on busier flights and would allow them to change flights free of charge.

“As more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are reserved at capacity beginning July 1,” American said in the press release.

The airline said that if space is available once boarding is completed, “taking into account the weight or balance restrictions of the aircraft,” passengers could move to another seat inside their ticket booth if available. United Airlines is offering a similar option through June 30, allowing customers on regularly scheduled flights “expected to be closer to full capacity” to rebook or receive a travel credit.

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According to the Associated PressSince April, American has limited reservations to 85 percent of a plane’s capacity by leaving the middle seats open. However, this measure of social distancing will disappear next week when the airline returns to full capacity.

Other airlines have not been so quick to rule out social distancing on their planes. According to the AP, Delta limits seats with a capacity of 60 percent and Southwest with a capacity of 67 percent until September 30. Meanwhile, JetBlue said it would leave the intermediate seats empty until July 31 unless a person travels with a passenger in an adjacent seat.

As capacity increases next week, American will also begin asking passengers at check-in to certify that they have had no covid-19 symptoms for the past 14 days. The airline already requires passengers and their employees wear masks on their planes unless there is a medical reason preventing them from doing so.

Finding out how to speed up operations safely has been a challenge for airlines, one of the industries most devastated by the virus, during the pandemic. In fact, some airlines differ in their approach to safety. The AP reports that United and Spirit Airlines argue that other steps, such as improving cleaning procedures and universal face mask policies, eliminate the need to lock seats.

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence and other members of the Trump administration met with executive directors from United, Delta, American and JetBlue, as well as the President of Southwest, to discuss recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. Reuters reports that airlines want the United States government to take passenger temperatures – fever is a common symptom of covid-19 – before boarding to reassure passengers that flights are safe.

According to Reuters, the Trump administration is open to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) carrying out temperature controls, but it still has many questions, such as what would happen to passengers who denied boarding for high fever and how to pay for the evaluation.

In the end, the White House made no commitment to demand and carry out temperature controls after the meeting.