Photos taken by 76-year-old Mary Pearson of Long Beach Island show passengers at each seat on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. flight from San Juan to Houston, with no possibility of social distancing.
Worse still, the woman who sat next to Pearson was not wearing a mask, she said.
“She got on the plane with a bandana and as soon as the plane took off, she took it off and never put it back on,” Pearson told the Post.
Pearson said it expected the airline to make sure all other seats were left empty and would require passengers to wear masks.
But there was not even any mention of the virus after boarding, she said.
“I had three friends who came – one on JetBlue, one on American and one on Southwest – and they all had the middle seat empty,” said Pearson. “Maybe I should have checked with United in advance, but it was really overwhelming to get on the plane to see what was going on. “
“It was really scary,” she added. “I wasn’t very excited to start with a plan. “
United’s website states that the airline “cannot guarantee that all customers will be seated next to an unoccupied seat”, but that “based on historically low travel demand and the implementation of our various measures of social distancing, this is the probable result ”.
Pearson said she had filed a complaint with the airline, but never received a response.
“It leaves me very much in danger for the next few weeks,” she said. “My husband and I are not young, 76 and 83 years old. “
United Airlines did not comment on Pearson’s specific experience, but told The Post that starting next week it would allow customers on packed flights to rebook or receive travel credit.
Until June 30, the airline said it would contact travelers about 24 hours before their departure time so they can decide to change their plans before arriving at the airport. The option will also be available at the boarding gate if more than 70% of passengers have checked in.
The airline also says it forces passengers and crew to wear masks on board, despite Pearson images of bare-faced travelers.
Pearson’s story comes after a San Francisco doctor returning from volunteering at a New York hospital to help fight the virus said he also had to endure a crowded flight over United.