US Senator blasts American Airlines for packing the center seats on his flight

US Senator blasts American Airlines for packing the middle seats on his flight

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat, tweeted a picture displaying his packed flight on Thursday. Most of the passengers within the photograph had been blurred out, nevertheless it’s clear some had been carrying masks and plenty of of them had been within the middle seat.
“@AmericanAir: how many Americans will die bc you fill middle seats, w/ your customers shoulder to shoulder, hour after hour. This is incredibly irresponsible,” he tweeted. “People eat & drink on planes & must take off masks to do so. No way you aren’t facilitating spread of COVID infections.”

On Friday he adopted up: “A lot of folks reacted to my tweet yesterday about the irresponsible sale of middle seats on planes saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in the Senate did something about it?’ They’re right.”

“I will introduce a bill to ban the sale of middle seats through this pandemic. And I’ll work with colleagues to include it in a package of airline accountability reforms they are crafting,” he tweeted.

American Airlines stated in an announcement Friday, “We are unwavering in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our customers and team members. We have multiple layers of protection in place for those who fly with us, including required face coverings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and a pre-flight COVID-19 symptom checklist — and we’re providing additional flexibility for customers to change their travel plans, as well.”

It added, “We know our customers are placing their trust in us to make every aspect of their journey safe, and we are committed to doing just that.”

American did not straight reply to Merkley’s preliminary tweet, nevertheless it did reply to a Twitter user who retweeted it and stated, “The very reason I didn’t fly my family from Texas to Maine. @AmericanAir. this is shameful. I’ve flown with you for years. I will never again.”
“We’ve implemented many layers of protection including enhanced cleaning and requiring face coverings,” the airline replied, linking to a press release that detailed its “clean commitment.”

Delta Air Lines, Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines, in the meantime, stated they’d proceed to restrict seating to allow some social distancing.

United Airlines stated Wednesday it doesn’t imagine that merely leaving center seats empty will shield passengers from the coronavirus.

“When it comes to blocking middle seats, that’s a PR strategy, that’s not a safety strategy,” Josh Earnest, the airline’s prime spokesman, advised reporters.

But Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated this week that “there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines” when the air service introduced it could cease limiting seat gross sales. 

Speaking at a Covid-19-related Senate committee listening to on Tuesday, Redfield stated security on airplanes and mass transportation is a “critical area.” 

“I can tell you that when they announced that the other day, obviously there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines,” Redfield stated. “I can say this is under critical review right now by us at CDC. We don’t think it’s the right message.”

The CDC has said that “although illness may occur as a direct result of air travel, it is uncommon.” Most viruses don’t spread easily on airplanes, the company has stated, due to how the air circulates and is filtered. Modern business jets recirculate 10-50% of the air within the cabin, blended with exterior air.

Source Health’s Amanda Watts, Pete Muntean, Holly Yan, Melissa Mahtani, Harmeet Kaur and Scottie Andrew contributed to this report.

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