Travelers say recent flights were packed, raising concerns about COVID-19 spread

Airlines for America, an industry trade organization representing the leading U.S. airlines, claims the majority of flights are sitting half empty with less than 10% of flights at 70% capacity or more.

News 12 Staff

Jun 17, 2020, 9:03 PM

Updated 1,442 days ago

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Some air travelers say they there wasn’t much social distancing happening on recent flights they took. 
Nicholas Giglio, from Long Island, shared photos with News 12 showing what appears to be a packed American Airlines flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Miami.
"I’m concerned having a total stranger with his bare arms rubbing up against me. That raises a concern to me," he said.
Nicholas Estavillo, a Haverstraw native, returned Wednesday from Charlotte, North Carolina, on an American Airlines flight that he says was packed.
Airlines for America, an industry trade organization representing the leading U.S. airlines, claims the majority of flights are sitting half empty with less than 10% of flights at 70% capacity or more.
The problem, according to the International Air Transportation Association, is airlines only break even when flights are 75% full. It goes on to say, "With fewer seats to sell, unit costs would rise sharply...between 43% and 54% just to break even." 
Airlines are also using less planes, grounding much of their fleets because of the significant reduction in people traveling.
Estavillo says a flight to Charlotte usually costs him $175. His most recent flight was $375.
American Airlines told News 12 in a statement:
"We continue to limit the number of passengers on each flight. As we stated back in March, it is the equivalent of 50% of middle seats in the main cabin. We have never said we are keeping all standard middle seats empty."
The spokesperson went on to say the Miami flight "went out with 41 empty seats in the main cabin; the aircraft only has 52 middle seats."
 


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