Despite their promise to leave the space between seats on their flights through May 31, 2020, United Airlines is flying a plane with every seat full.
A twitter post emerged today showing a packed United Airlines 737 flight despite the rules on social distancing being in place across the nation. Even in the White House briefing room, journalists have to sit with a space between them and follow the CDC guidelines designed to keep everyone’s safety. Why would an airline be an exception to this rule?
“ This is the last time I’ll be flying again for a very long time,” a passenger on the flight, UCSF doctor Ethan Weiss said on twitter.
This is the last time I’ll be flying again for a very long time— Ethan Weiss (@ethanjweiss) May 9, 2020
Upon landing, UCSF doctor Ethan Weiss, who traveled with 25 nurses and doctors who have been in NYC helping the fight against COVID-19 shared with The Pavlovic Today his disbelief about what he has experienced.
We were all really shocked. It was stunning and we could not believe it but also I am with 25 nurses and doctors who have been in NYC for 2-4 weeks and are coming home. I feel bad because United treated us so well on the way out and comp’d our flight but this is crazy, Weiss said.
While the airline crew treated passengers on the flight well, management of the United Airlines has to answer why did they put their employees and passengers at risk.
These doctors and nurses were risking their lives for the past two to four weeks in New York City working in COVID-19 ICUs to then find themselves on a plane without any social distancing measures in place. That's irresponsible and paying costumers on this flight should be alarmed to learn that the doctors and nurses fighting to save the lives of patients in ICU have been put in this hazardous situation. Quite frankly, the whole of America should be outraged.
As I am writing this article, the United still keeps re-assurance on social distancing posted on its website :
"Though we cannot guarantee that all customers will be seated next to an unoccupied seat, based on historically low travel demand and the implementation of our various social distancing measures that is the likely outcome. We expect to keep these measures in place through May 31", United Airlines states.
Flying a plane with every seat filled in does not represent social distancing in any shape or form.
United Airlines, along with JetBlue, Frontier, Delta, and American Airlines requires that all passengers wear face masks, but what’s important not to miss here is that the masks are not a substitute for social distancing.
Airlines have been hit hard financially during the Covid-19 pandemic but that can't be an excuse to place profit over the safety of passengers. According to the latest market report, United Airlines Holdings Inc has lost $1.7 billion in the first quarter with a drop in sales from $9.6 billion to $7.9 billion. While every airline's profit depends on demand, and it is normal that they want to bounce back quickly and strongly, that cannot happen over people’s lives.
At the moment where there is no vaccine against COVID-19, people want to know that their lives won’t be put in danger by companies in charge of their transportation.
Just ten days ago, United posted on their website that automatic blocking of middle seats will be in place every time a passenger books their ticket. The question is, what changed? Perhaps what's needed is to place cameras in ICUs so corporate America finally understands what coronavirus does to people.
It seems that United Airlines believes that nothing has changed with COVID-19 and is showing no effort to adapt to a new normal that requires companies to rethink the way people travel during the pandemic.
The Pavlovic Today has made a request for comment, but United has not responded.
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