Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport appeared almost empty on Thursday with a traveler calling it “surreal.” The United States is offering airlines $ 25 billion in aid, but analysts say it may take five years before the industry fully recovers. (April 16)
A photo of a crowded flight posted on Twitter by a returning cardiologist from New York could hint at the difficulties of social isolation as air travel resumes.
Dr. Ethan Weiss tweeted a photo Saturday showing what appears to be a complete United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco. Although the passengers are wearing masks, he said the overcrowded cabin goes against assurances from United that it will leave the middle seats empty to promote social distancing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“I guess @united is loosening up its social distancing policy these days?” Each seat is full on this 737, ”Weiss tweeted with the photo. He is a doctor and scientist at the University of California at San Francisco who worked in New York to help deal with the coronavirus crisis.
In a separate tweet, Weiss included a statement from United’s chief customer officer, sent to all passengers, saying, “We automatically block the middle seats to give you enough space on board. “
He said in a tweet that he was one of the medical workers who had been sent to New York by United free of charge to help treat the flood of patients due to the pandemic. He added that “the people on this plane are afraid / are shocked”.
Weiss told USA TODAY that he had no comments other than his tweets.
Contacted, a United spokesperson said the airline has taken steps to fight the coronavirus.
“We have revised our cleaning and security procedures and implemented a new boarding and disembarking process to promote social distancing,” spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs said in an email. “Our flight to San Francisco had 25 additional health professionals on board who flew for free time in New York. We have provided free flights to over 1,000 doctors and nurses in the past few weeks alone – and all passengers and employees have been asked to wear face covers in accordance with our new policy. “
United is one of several airlines that have established policies to try to keep the middle seats open, even if for some it is more of a goal than a guarantee. Airline passenger traffic has plunged to levels not seen since the 1950s and recently domestic flights have averaged 17 passengers, Nicholas Calio, CEO of Industry Airlines for industry, told a Senate committee last week America.
But as the nation begins to reopen, air traffic begins to increase and there is more pressure to fill the intermediate seats.
Transportation Security Administration said it screened 215,444 people at checkpoints on Friday as generally busy Mother’s Day weekend began, the highest daily number since March 25 and more than double from the low of 87,534 on April 14. travel demand bottomed out in mid-April.
Friday’s figure is still down almost 92% from the same Friday a year ago, however, when 2.6 million passengers, crew and airport workers were screened at TSA control.
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