About a week ago I wrote about how United Airlines is helping people social distance. The airline started asking gate agents to proactively reseat people on empty flights to maximize space between people (and based on the looks of it, flights are empty).
How American Airlines is helping with social distancing
Kurt Stache, American’s SVP of Customer Experience, has another one of his lovely video messages sharing how American is looking after customers (I don’t get why they can’t also write out what he’s saying, so that we don’t have to watch these videos to figure out what’s going on).
I’ve written about some of American’s initiatives already, like them suspending most inflight service. But there’s one thing that seems to be new for the airline, as American Airlines is taking measures to help passengers self distance.
As it’s explained:
“Our gate agents can reassign seats to create more seats between you and other travelers. to help make this easier, we are blocking half of all middle seats. Once boarding is complete, customers have the flexibility to move to another seat within their cabin. Of course there may be restrictions, and this is not guaranteed.”
Apparently this policy applies through May 31, 2020, and is subject to weight and balance. Interestingly American is taking a different approach than United here — United wants gate agents to reseat people so that weight and balance doesn’t become an issue, while American is making some efforts prior to boarding, and is also telling people to reseat themselves once boarding is complete.
American’s seat blocking in action
It’s also interesting that the airline is going to be blocking half of middle seats. I’m not sure if that means they actually wouldn’t sell a flight to capacity, or if it just means that if a flight isn’t very full, then they’ll block some middle seats.
For what it’s worth, many flights look so empty that I’m not sure much social distancing efforts are even needed on those.
Here’s one example of this seat blocking at work on a Dallas to Charlotte flight this morning:
As you can see, middle seats throughout the plane are blocked. However, ironically people are crammed into the back of the plane, while closer to the front (this isn’t even Main Cabin Extra) we see blocked middle seats with no one seated on either side.
Also, who the heck are all of these people who are flying?!
For the most part flights are really empty right now, though I imagine they’ll start to get fuller, as airlines significantly cut capacity. In general I appreciate American’s efforts here, as they’re starting to block middle seats and also tell passengers they can move around.