Amid the lifting of restrictions on air travel by officials, a United Airlines flight aboard a Boeing 737 can be seen wholly filled with passengers who are wearing face masks. The photo was uploaded to Twitter by a cardiologist who was aboard the plane.
Dr. Ethan Weiss was returning from New York after being dispatched for free by the airline company to aid in the surge of patients due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Apparent lack of safety and hygiene
Dr. Weiss said he was concerned with the apparent turn-around of United Airlines in maintaining their social distancing policies, even posting a tweet about the encounter to the social media platform.
The incident was seen as ironic and counter-intuitive to the airline company's chief customer officer's announcement that they will be leaving middle seats open to help keep the distance between passengers in this time of crisis.
Also I guess a lot has changed in 10 days pic.twitter.com/mIPdxL13KZ — Ethan Weiss (@ethanjweiss) May 9, 2020
He expressed his thoughts that the company might be relaxing their policies with their strategies against the disease while sharing the apparent fear and unease of the passengers on the plane. The doctor said he had no other comment to give other than his tweets.
A spokeswoman for United Airlines has come with a response stating they are taking appropriate steps to address the existence of the coronavirus and ways to reduce the risk to passengers.
Kimberly Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the airline company, said in an email that they have completely redesigned their hygiene and safety procedures and have placed new processes for their boarding and deplaning per social distancing guidelines.
She also said that their flight to San Francisco, where Dr. Weiss was a passenger, had an excess of 25 medical professionals that were flown for free in their fight against the coronavirus in New York.
The spokeswoman also stated they had given more than 1,000 complimentary flights to doctors and nurses in recent weeks. They've ensured that all passengers and employees are required to cover their faces, as stated by their new policy.
A drop in the overall number of travelers
The company in question is only one of several airline companies that have placed new policies that work in line with social distancing requirements, though, for some, it looks to be something more of a, aim, rather than a necessity.
CEO of the industry trade group Airlines for America, Nicholas Calio, told a Senate Committee that recent events had caused average airline passenger traffic to dip to an all-time low not seen since the 1950s where domestic flights are averaging 17 passengers per trip.
With the impending reopening of the nation amid the increasing number of positive cases, passengers are once again starting to gather in airlines, which results in more traffic that pressures the filling of middle seats.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) revealed that they'd monitored 215,444 people that went through checkpoints on Friday in the wake of Mother's Day coming up on the weekend.
The numbers show the highest daily statistics since March 25 while being more than double that of April 14, which resulted in 87,534 people.
The year-by-year comparison figure is still showing a decline of 92% from last year, which showed a total number of more than 2.6 million passengers, along with crew members and airport employees that were screened at TSA checkpoints.