Passenger on packed American Airlines flight questions lack of social distancing and consideration for public safety in pandemic

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“The people just kept coming and coming, the next thing you know every seat is full... there’s no distance between anybody." ~ Robbie Wilson, AA Flight 65 passenger

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Robbie Wilson travels every two weeks for work and says in general, he’s seen a lot of social distancing on his flights.

That changed two weeks ago, when he says American Airlines canceled several flights out of Charlotte to fill one plane.

“The people just kept coming and coming, the next thing you know every seat is full, everybody’s sitting side by side. There’s no distance between anybody. There was no where to go.”

Sunday, April 19th, American Airlines flight #65 from Charlotte to Dallas/Fort Worth -packed- as passenger Robbie Wilson says, shoulder to shoulder.”

Jennie: “Were other people as upset about this as you were?”
Robbie: “Yeah, there were a few people at the beginning that the stewardesses were calming down.”

“You can’t be anywhere right now with more than 10 people, family members, near you- and you were cramped in there with 150 strangers that had been who knows where? They announced that the first row and the last row were gonna remain open for the safety of the crew.”

Jennie: “And the question becomes, what about the safety of the passengers?”
Robbie: “Exactly. Exactly, that’s what I asked them, too, and they gave me a standard answer that they care, but obviously they didn’t,”

Video on social media went viral this week, showing 6 seconds of another crowded American Airlines flight from New York to Charlotte. ABC News shared that video, which you can see here.

There were spaces between passengers on the plane in the video. Not so for Wilson’s flight six days earlier.

“Yeah, they announced that it was full, they announced that every seat- they were asking you to consolidate your bags so they’d have room for everybody because it was full flight.”

Wilson has this advice for anyone else who has to fly during this time of heightened public safety precautions:

“They need to prepare and take a face mask. And ask in advance if the plane is full, I mean 1/2 full is too many.”

After several requests American Airlines sent this comment to WJBF NewsChannel 6:

“On flights through May 31, American will limit the number of passengers on each aircraft. As part of this limit, American will not assign 50% of main cabin middle seats or seats near flight attendant jump seats on every flight, and will only use those middle seats when necessary. Gate agents will also continue to reassign seats to create more space between customers or to accommodate families who need to be seated together. Once on board — as long as there aren’t any aircraft weight or balance restrictions — customers can move to another seat within their ticketed cabin subject to availability.” -American Airlines

Airlines are beginning to announce changes in their sanitation and safety procedures, like this from American:

“We will begin to distribute sanitizing wipes or gel and face masks to passengers, as supplies allow. Our flight attendants will be required to wear face masks on all flights, beginning May 1.” -American Airlines

And Delta Airlines is making changes on top of previously announces precautions:

“Delta employees and customers will experience an extra layer of protection starting May 4, as we require all customers to wear a face mask or appropriate face covering when traveling with us. Aligning with best practice guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, this move comes on the heels of our announcement earlier this week requiring employees worldwide to wear face masks if they are unable to maintain six feet of distance with customers or each other. This requirement for our people helps set the example for our customers to follow as well.” -Delta Airlines

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