AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– “I asked the American representative, since they knew the plane was full, why they didn’t announce it and ask if we wanted off the flight?”
“She said, ‘Good question.'”
That answer, “Good question,” has been bothering frequent flyer Robbie Wilson all week.
The Oakman, Alabama man flies every two weeks for his job and says in general, airlines have been doing a good job during the coronavirus pandemic setting up the planes and keeping passengers separate.
“I assumed this flight would be like the rest. American Airlines canceled my flight and put me on this flight from Charlotte to Dalls so they could have a completely full plane.”
Wilson was stunned to see every seat in the cabin filled, except for the ones near the flight attendants. He shared these photos from flight 65 from Charlotte to Dallas/Fort Worth on April 19th.
“They canceled service on this flight to protect the staff, but put paying customers shoulder-to-shoulder.”
Wilson says before boarding the plane, passengers were instructed to keep a 6-foot distance while scanning tickets and walking down the jet bridge, but then they were packed right next to each other on the plane.
WJBF NewsChannel 6 has reached out to American Airlines for a comment and we are waiting for a reply. (See update below.)
In the meantime, we have received only this automated response:
“The safety and well-being of our customers and team members remains our highest priority. American is in contact with U.S. and international authorities, as well as public health officials, and we continue to coordinate with them on all required health- and safety-related measures regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).”
Since this story was originally posted, another American Airlines flight has made headlines. See details of that flight here, and how JetBlue become first US airline to require passengers to wear masks.
Wilson says his flight April 19th was a huge difference from his experience two weeks earlier, on April 3rd, when social distancing was obvious. This is how the cabin looked then:
American Airlines sent this response to WJBF NewsChannel 6 April 30th:
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