The airline sector has been especially hard hit by the virus, but social distancing on airplanes is the latest battle. It is a topic that has been getting customers seriously angry, with many turning to social media to vent their frustration.
With 90% of their fleets grounded and limited schedules, many airlines around the world have needed government bailouts just to stay in business. They are very slowly starting to get a few flights in the air and passengers are showing up. Rather than tourism, these flights are mainly functional, with people trying to get home or conduct urgent business.
One of the key selling points that a lot of airlines have been touting was an ’empty middle seat’ to help with social distancing. That makes sense on a health level, but would obviously be seriously unprofitable for airlines. So, they’re packing customers in as much as they can with other seating arrangements. This lack of space seems to be what is getting people so angry…
Problems With Social Distancing On Airplanes
Although passengers have been taking massive precautions, with the majority wearing masks, they have found themselves squeezed in tight on some flights.
How is this still airline travel in America?? Friend of mine flew @AmericanAir MIA>LGA yesterday and sent me these from the plane. No attempt at changing boarding procedure, every seat packed. Only eliminated bev service which only saves airlines money. What the actual f pic.twitter.com/h1vAqr1SyP
— Sacha Haworth (@sachalouise) May 10, 2020
Many customers are especially angry as they had paid a huge premium price to have seats with extra space around them, only to be faced with packed planes.
Air India flight from their Chicago-Delhi flight … passengers were charged 3x Fares to “cover” social-distancing and Air India then “packed” the flight …
See the actual scenario inside the plane!! @RubikaLiyaquat @s @aajtak @ABPNews @ pic.twitter.com/MOi2MT0cNe
— Ardent Traveller (@TravellerArdent) May 8, 2020
A group of doctors who came to New York to help were horrified when they boarded their flight home. With New York being a virus hotspot, this was especially worrying for passengers.
— Ethan Weiss (@ethanjweiss) May 9, 2020
Although Europe is still mostly in lockdown, there are some flights between countries. This short flight from Belfast to London had no free seats at all…
This was the @AerLingus flight from @BELFASTCITY_AIR to @londonheathrow this morning at 8:45. No social distancing taking place – one passenger told me they weren’t given any advice on how to keep themselves safe. More on @BBCevex next @taramillstv @NewsDeclan pic.twitter.com/eeAfcGf23O
— Kelly Bonner (@KellyBonner) May 4, 2020
Airlines do not have it easy. They have a duty to protect customers but they are also burning through cash. Hopefully, these are early teething problems that can be sorted out and everybody can stay safe in the air. Scenes like these will not inspire confidence in future for passengers boarding planes…