American Airlines will begin booking flights at full capacity, the company announcement Friday evening, even as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise in parts of the country.
As of July 1, American Airlines will no longer leave the middle seat empty and will allow flights to be booked at full capacity.
The airline said it would educate customers and allow them “to switch to more open flights when they become available, all at no cost.”
After boarding, passengers will also be allowed to move to a different seat in the cabin of their ticket if there is room, taking into account the aircraft’s weight or balance restrictions, said the airline company.
The number of people traveling is increasing after falling in March, although it is still far from pre-pandemic levels: According to At the Transportation Security Administration, the agency screened 623,624 passengers on June 25, an 83% increase from the same day the previous month.
United Airlines also reserves full flights, but Southwest, Delta and JetBlue continue to impose social distancing by limiting the number of seats.
Elected officials and public health experts attacked the decision. Representative Ted Lieu (D-Ca) said the airline was “putting lives at risk” and asked them to “reconsider”. Eric Feigl-Ding, epidemiologist and health economist at Harvard Chan School of Public Health, tweeted that he was “greatly saddened by this aggressive decision amid record-breaking cases of # COVID19”.
“As more and more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked at full capacity starting July 1. American will continue to educate customers and allow them to switch to more open flights when they become available, all at no cost, ”the airline said in the press release.
After peaking for a short time, coronavirus cases in the United States are on the rise, driven by record increases in southern and western states including California, Texas, Florida and Arizona. Although these states began to reopen last month, leaders are starting to go back– but mandatory mask orders still remain a political issue.