We’ve already seen how most of the major airlines are playing their virtue-signaling game when it comes to social distancing on flights. In addition to making everyone wear masks – a good move to be sure – they’re talking about spacing passengers out to reduce the risk of infection. (One airline that briefly proposed charging extra for social distancing quickly abandoned the plan.) But how serious are they about that pledge?
One doctor from San Francisco discovered that they’re not very serious about it at all, at least in the case of United Airlines. Dr. Ethan Weiss had been out in New York City, working as one of the many volunteers in the medical field who have been helping to combat the virus in the Big Apple. Heading home after several weeks on the front lines, Weiss boarded his United flight only to find every seat filled with nervous, frightened people. While he was more polite about it than I probably would have been, he was still clearly not impressed. (San Francisco Gate)
A UCSF doctor, coming home after several weeks in New York City helping coronavirus patients, shared his shocking experience of traveling on a packed flight back to SFO.
Tweets from cardiologist Ethan Weiss went viral Saturday after the doctor posted a photo of a full United flight.
“I guess @united is relaxing their social distancing policy these days?” he wrote. “Every seat full on this 737.”
On April 22, United announced it was “limiting seat selections in all cabins, so customers won’t be able to select seats next to each other or middle seats where available.”
Here’s the tweet that started the ball rolling.
— Ethan Weiss (@ethanjweiss) May 9, 2020
You’ll note that the linked article reminds us of how United put out a statement a few weeks ago saying that they would be “limiting seat selection in all cabins” so passengers won’t be sitting right next to someone else unless they were family members traveling together. But that wasn’t really an official policy at all. It was a PR stunt. They later went on to clarify their position, saying “Though we cannot guarantee that all customers will be seated next to an unoccupied seat, based on historically low travel demand and the implementation of our various social distancing measures that is the likely outcome.”
Allow me to translate that for you. What United was really saying was that they hate the fact that everyone is staying home and they can’t sell all of their seats, so they might as well let you benefit from that by not sitting next to a stranger. But (and this is the important caveat), if they can manage to sell all the seats for a flight you can damn well rest assured that they’re going to soak up every dollar in sales possible and you can stick your dreams of social distancing where the sun don’t shine.
This is clearly what happened to Dr. Weiss and his fellow passengers. United cut back on the number of flights from New York to San Francisco to the point where everyone forced to make the journey on that day had to book the same flight. They sold all the seats and basically told everyone to put on a mask, shut their mouths and suck it up. That’s a great example of helping the country make it through the pandemic, eh? They’re a real bunch of humanitarians over at United.
As I’ve said here repeatedly, airline travel was a horrible experience before the novel coronavirus hit unless you happened to be wealthy enough to fly First Class all of the time. And now, with all of this COVID-19 business making everything even more of a horror show, it’s only getting worse. If I can somehow avoid ever taking a plane again for the rest of my life I will certainly do so.