Airlines have tried social distance on board. For many, this experience ends.

After capping the number of people on flights since April, American Airlines ad Friday its planes will likely be full in a few days.

“As more and more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked as of July 1,” the airline said in a statement. “American will continue to educate customers and allow them to switch to more open flights when available, all at no cost.”

The carrier stated that passengers could potentially – if there is room and there are no restrictions due to weight or balance – move to other cabin seats. they are sitting next to someone they do not know.

The reaction to the news was swift and angry at the end of a week that saw save daily numbers new coronavirus infections in the United States. Two states – Florida and Texas, where American is headquartered – reinstated some restrictions as cases have increased dramatically.

“I find it absolutely appalling that you chose to sell the seats in the middle row while Covid’s numbers continue to rise,” said a Twitter user. wrote in a message to the airline. “I’m loyal to AA, but you obviously don’t care about public safety. Looks like I will be flying Delta since they removed the middle row. BETTER EXPECTED! “

Earlier this week, the union representing the American pilots pushed for a plan this would allow the government to purchase enough seats on each flight so that no one has to sit next to a stranger.

“Passengers would be encouraged to fly more through a uniform social distance, airlines would be encouraged to operate more flights, and the government would ensure the preservation of essential transportation infrastructure and related jobs,” proposed the Allied Pilots Association.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, 623,624 people passed through TSA checkpoints on Thursday – the highest number since March 19.

As the number of travelers has increased, airlines have introduced more security measures, including demanding passengers must wear a face covering.

United said in mid-may, he “would avoid placing customers side by side as much as possible”, but could not offer any guarantees. Instead, the airline said by the time he would “do our best” to contact travelers on flights that were supposed to be nearly full in case they wanted to book another flight.

United spokesman Charles Hobart said in an email that the policy will remain in effect until July 31, but confirmed that the carrier does not block middle or adjacent seats.

Delta is still blocking the middle seats and has committed to limiting the number of seats to 50 or 60%, depending on the part of the aircraft – at least until September 30. Southwest Airlines prevents about a third of its aircraft seats from being reserved, which it says allows the middle seats to remain open. This ceiling is also in place until September 30 at least.

JetBlue has stated that it will continue to block all middle seats on large aircraft and aisle seats on small aircraft until at least July 31.

“You will definitely have to sit next to a stranger again, I fear, on a plane,” said Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue, during a Washington Post Live Chat at the end of May. “Because [of] the economy of our industry, most airlines have a breakeven point of 75 to 80%, so clearly cap flights at 55 to 60%, which we are doing right now … is not sustainable.

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