Full Flight Outrage: Who Is To Blame?

Filed Under: Travel

There’s a trend I’ve noticed recently, and I’m not sure where exactly the blame falls — on the passengers, on airlines, on regulators, or on all three parties.

“Look everyone, my flight was full!”

There has been a significant uptick in outrage in the past week or so regarding full flights. I can’t count the number of national news stories I’ve seen about specific instances of full flights.

For example, take the below Tweet regarding an American Airlines flight from New York to Charlotte on Saturday, where a Twitter user was outraged by how full her flight was:

Well silly me thinking that an airline would adhere to social distancing guidelines. Currently abroad a nearly full @AmericanAir flight and I’ve never felt less safe or cared for in my entire life

I totally get it, I’d probably feel uncomfortable as well. But that’s also exactly what I would expect if I got on a plane right now.

By the way, for those wondering why the person was flying (I think we all can’t help but be curious), a news report suggests that her grandmother passed away recently and she wanted to be with her family. Make of that what you will.

Should we be outraged by full flights?

I firmly believe airlines, regulators, and passengers are at fault for this being newsworthy, though I’m not sure how to prioritize that, exactly. Let me share some overall thoughts, and then I’m curious what you guys think.

First of all, it’s maybe worth discussing why flights are now often full. It’s not that everyone is suddenly flying (though there is a slight uptick in traffic), but rather it’s because airlines are finally getting around to cancelling flights, as they should.

Previously airlines were operating flights with maybe a dozen passengers on them. While that’s good for social distancing, it’s bad for the environment, and also bad for taxpayers (because it causes airlines to unnecessarily burn through money, and they’ll no doubt be looking for more government aid soon).

With that in mind…

Regulators need to require face masks

The first issue with these full flight scenarios is that not everyone is wearing a mask. With the CDC recommending face masks in situations where social distancing isn’t possible, why is there no government regulation requiring face masks to be worn on planes?

It makes zero sense to me. Even under the best of circumstances social distancing isn’t really possible on planes, so why are we continuing to allow passengers onto planes without face masks?

Airlines are doing a bad job managing expectations

Airlines are largely doing a terrible job managing expectations with regards to social distancing. I wrote about this situation at United Airlines a few days ago.

Airlines claim to be promoting social distancing and to be “blocking” seats, though in reality some airlines are only blocking seat assignments in advance, and will still sell out a flight completely.

In other words, they’ll just assign the seat next to you to someone at the gate, rather than in advance, which does zero for social distancing.

Consumers are easily misled here, as airlines like United will sell every last seat on a plane if they can. The extent of their social distancing efforts is basically to say “hey, if there are empty seats on a plane there is also some social distancing, but we’ll certainly try to sell every last seat.”

I can see how people board a plane thinking they’ll have an empty middle seat, and then being shocked to find a full flight. Airlines need to do a better job with messaging.

Passengers need to be realistic

This is the part where I feel like some personal accountability is needed:

  • Many complaints about full flights revolve around other passengers not wearing masks; I agree it’s a problem, but we also know there are no regulations requiring that, so you should board a flight expecting that a person seated near you won’t be wearing a mask
  • I think the Tweet above sums up another common belief — “well silly me thinking that an airline would adhere to social distancing guidelines”

As Ryanair’s CEO explains, social distancing on a plane is ultimately an illusion. Even if an airline blocked middle seats:

  • That still only puts you under two feet away from a person to the side of you, which is only a third of the recommended amount of social distancing
  • You’re still literally only inches from the person in front or behind you

If airlines were actually going to maintain six feet of distance between passengers, on a narrow body you could have two passengers in every three rows, meaning every 18 seats could accommodate only two people. That way there would be four seats and two full rows between passengers.

Airlines have never promised six feet between people, so if anyone expects airlines to “adhere to social distancing guidelines,” that’s entirely on them. If it’s an empty middle seat you’re after, that still doesn’t make you safe.

Bottom line

As airlines cut capacity by 80-90%, expect more of those flights operating to actually be reasonably full. I suspect that also means the amount of full flight outrage will increase.

Personally I think there’s enough blame to go around here — many airlines are misleading consumers with fake social distancing measures, regulators should be requiring that passengers wear face masks, and passengers should stop being delusional, because even if middle seats were blocked, that still wouldn’t make you “safe.”

There’s a reason I’m not flying right now (in addition to just wanting to do the right thing), and that if I needed to get somewhere within the US, I would just drive.

We all have the responsibility to look after ourselves, and if being on a full flight is going to make you the feel the least safe you’ve felt in your life, then I’d highly recommend another form of transportation (like a rental car) if at all possible.

Where do you stand on this — who is to blame for the full flight outrage?

Comments
  1. There’s no way to adequately social distance onboard an aircraft. You can try separating people by seats, rows, or cabins, but the very nature of flying is sitting for extended periods in a relatively confined space with recycled air floating around.

    If this makes you uncomfortable, you probably shouldn’t be flying. Some people are thicker than a wooden board, I swear …

  2. I think there are actually things to be outraged about and this isn’t one of them. She chose to fly. She took a risk. She should deal with it. She is ridiculous.

  3. People need information. I have a friend who has to take a flight in two weeks from NYC to LAX. They haven’t bought their ticket yet. It’s near impossible for them to tell what the loads are on any of the flights. They’re somewhat flexible, so if the 6pm is 90% full, and the 7am the enxt day is 10% full, they would immediately buy that – but that’s not info the companies are sharing.

  4. We always think the rules apply to everyone else but ourselves. Everyone else should stay home, but I’m special because….

    Anyone surprised by our reactions in this country have not seen how people routinely ignore leash laws, hands free driving laws, and many other public safety laws. It’s pretty much ingrained in our American culture. And it explains why we have the highest number of COVID19 cases.

    The lady complaining is ridiculous she took the risk she can’t complain the other people did the same thing

    Don’t want to be exposed? stay home

  5. I’m a flight attendant. I’ve had plenty of people get onboard lately mad that the flight is full, and get mad at the crew for there being someone else in their row. If you get onboard and say “aren’t we supposed to be social distancing” or “Is the airline really selling every seat” I’m going to laugh in your face just like the last person that said those words to me.

    You’re supposed to be social distancing AT HOME. Unless you’re an essential worker, you’re part of the very problem that you’re complaining about.

    Every airline is going to sell EVERY seat if possible. They are all desperate for cash and you’d better believe they aren’t going to turn away your $18 fare. This isn’t news, this is a business.

  6. Percentage of people who consider THEIR reason for flying to be legitimate/necessary: 100%
    Percentage of people who consider OTHERS’ reasons for flying to be legitimate/necessary: ~5%

  7. Benyamin,

    Here you go stirring up shit again. There are only two options;
    -We use airlines as mass extermination tools, weeding out the weak among us
    or
    In addition to removing middle seat and every other row, Airlines should require crew and passengers wear one of those full body condom suits.
    Problem Solved, Safety & fun restored. you are welcome!

  8. I agree with what @James S is saying. While there might be some security concerns about doing so, I think all airlines will need to start publishing their load factors in real time so that people can make informed decisions about which flight to take at the last minute. Some people are often fooled by seat maps that exclude the passengers that wait to check in and select a seat until they’re at the airport, standbys etc. If I had to fly tomorrow for some genuinely urgent reason, it would be nice to be able to easily see if a flight was at a 30% or 90% load factor a day out.

  9. @ James S @ AlanD:

    Expertflyer.com. Same data w/r/t flight loads that the airlines have.

    Short term subscriptions are reasonably priced.

  10. If I arrived at the gate and a saw lots of people, I’d turn and leave. No sense risking it.

  11. “If airlines were actually going to maintain six feet of distance between passengers, on a narrow body you could have two passengers in every three rows, meaning every 18 seats could accommodate only two people. That way there would be four seats and two full rows between passengers.”
    even then, social distancing would be broke when someone gets use the bathroom.

  12. @Ryan, the data shouldn’t be locked behind a paid website only hobbyists know about. It should appear when you search on Google Flights or Expedia or whatever.

  13. The other problem though is the plane with 10% load factor will end up getting cancelled and you’ll be “rolled” to the flight with 75% capacity. Airlines do that ALL the time! They always have. Mechanical problem, plane coming in, etc.

  14. Well airlines clearly don’t care about safety. Money is more important. Airlines could add more flights instead of packing every last seat. Business can’t be trusted to do the right thing so the government should step in. Who are these passengers? Is this really essential travel? I doubt people would wear masks the entire flight with a government regulation or not. Are we going to have to divert a flight everytime a passenger pulls their mask off and refuses to put it back on mid-flight? The airlines made a choice of profit over safety. Its pretty clear that the blame should land squarely on them. Honestly though keeping the middle seat open doesn’t sound like it would make any difference. Think you would need an entire row between people given how crammed in seats are together.

  15. For past decade at least airlines have not cared at all about passengers in economy, ie most of their customers. No change there!

  16. I really dont know how blocking the middle seat would make the flight any ‘safer.’ And it would be impossible for them to only sell 20 seats on a 737 (the government isnt going to subsidize the plane and people would be up in arms if flights started costing $2,000 r/t.

    A for-profit, publically traded company isnt a charity and they shouldnt be trying to lose money with the few flights they’re operating.

    Everyone is recommending you dont fly right now. And every contact with the public puts you at some level of risk. Don’t fly. If you choose to fly, dont complain.

  17. If you are dumb enough to think taking out the middle seats on a plane makes you safe… I don’t know what to say. To properly social distance you would need 75% of seats to be empty and nevermind the boarding, exit, security and just about every single aspect of flying. Just stay home folks if you aren’t comfortable with getting covid.

  18. Personal Responsibility. Obsolete.

    You want airlines to give you space you did not pay for.
    You want the government to pay you (as if they are an insurance company).
    You want a subsidy for your industry, but you complain about the subsidy someone else gest.
    You want your neighbor to wear a mask (to protect you).
    You want the government to impose restrictions — to TELL you what to do.

    Weeks ago masks were ineffective. Now you want others to wear them for your benefit.
    Make your own choices. Want to protect yourself. Wear your own damn mask.
    Want to social distance, stay home, or drive.
    Want to keep from getting a disease? Great, take responsibility for yourself.
    Assume everyone is sick and act accordingly.

    What happened to Liberty and Freedom? I am tired of being told what to do

  19. To me it’s like ordering an Uber Pool and then complaining that you have to share the car with someone. Half full, fully full, you are still taking a risk. And it’s not the airline’s job to tell you how foolhardy you are to fly if you don’t want to be exposed.

  20. If you want to guarantee you are not sitting next to someone – buy a second seat. Given the fares these days, that shouldn’t be that expensive.

  21. @George

    Tell me, using your brain and the ability to use logic and reason, what is the right answer to prevent the spread of this virus. Oh while you’re at it, the logic and reason on how does the virus spread, and why social distancing is the answer to nothing.

  22. I wonder whether the people complaining about full flights would be okay paying 4x as much for their tickets to compensate for not allowing the airline to sell 75% off the seats…

    That said, I agree that airlines should at least clearly communicate that social distancing on a plane is basically impossible and passengers should be made aware that it is MUCH safer to just stay home if possible.

  23. @UA-NYC: I hope he doesn`t. He is flying each weak and doesn`t care. He would be a superspreader.

    @Bill: The purpose of an airline is to make money. The passenger made a choice (years ago): Cheaper and cheaper fares over safety and comfort. If you want to have more distance on an airplane you can buy a first class ticket or buy the entire row – or if you feel like it: Two rows. (You need to call an agent, though. Can`t do it online).

    “I doubt people would wear masks the entire flight with a government regulation or not.” – I flew Air Canada last week transatlantic: One flight attendant was constantly walking up and down the aisle with a flashlight to make sure everyone was wearing the mask. Was that annoying? Yes, for sure. But it was effective.

  24. Predictable, and it will get worse as states reopen and as people start taking flights again. Regardless of whether it is right or not to start this, airlines are unprepared because no one has made smart plans from the top down.

    1) Airlines should have been running at severely reduced capacity in March and early April, not in May, June and July
    2) As people start ramping up flying, airlines should ramp up capacity to encourage social distancing. Flights should be running at low loads even as traffic recovers
    3) Low loads in May and June should have been a stipulation of federal bailouts – and the government should have compensated airlines for the inefficiency

    Similarly, we should be opening up restaurants and other attractions in May, June and July. They should be mandated to run at 33% occupancy, then 50-60%, then 75%, etc. During those unprofitable periods, reimburse companies for losses.

    You need to get things moving again, reinforcing social distancing in the short term and reimburse companies for unusually low business volumes. Unfortunately no one has the foresight to organize all of this.

  25. If I were that lady, I would have just rented a car and drove from NYC to Charlotte, NC. Gas is so cheap right now.

  26. @ George

    Your logic and reasoning, and supersized brain is making me believe you are Trump. Are you the POTUS in disguise?

  27. Ryan- ExpertFlier doesn’t show load factors. Seat maps don’t reflect tickets sold without a seat assigned, and inventory counts are capped 9 for all fare classes.

  28. Are you really going to complain that you’re entitled to empty seats ?

    Don’t be surprised post COVID if a route that was once served twice daily with a 77W is only operated 3X weekly with a 788 and the flights are full.

  29. D3King – If we are serious about both restarting the economy and keeping people safe, the government should be encouraging airlines to fly planes half full or a third full – that means significantly more capacity than is currently flying

  30. In other breaking news, tourist goes to to tourist site and complains about number of tourists, and driver sits in car complaining about traffic. Stop complaining about the problem, you are the problem.

  31. Here’s the problem: People Are Idiots.

    The Idiot In Chief is problem #1. Everyone following him thinks that this is all a hoax, it’s over, the rules don’t apply to them, they’re tired of restrictions, they want Liberation.

    Stay the fuck home, idiot. Your flight isn’t worth the lives of the many thousands of people you might kill.

  32. You aren’t comfortable… don’t travel. You have to travel and aren’t comfortable around others… Netjets… can’t afford the PJ…. walk, bike, drive bus, train!
    If none of those work… do your part, wear your mask, wash your hands and shut the F*** up.

  33. First the mask is NOT protection from getting it but giving it. Second, so long as you don’t sneeze all over the place, wipe your eyes, nose and mouth and than rub your hand up and down the person next to you and the seat 99% of the time you will be fine.

    I wear a mask when I visit my mother in hospice care, but also get screened each time I enter and are limited to where I can go. A plane if properly cleaned (which they are doing a better job of) with or without a mask hasn’t seen a spread like a cruise ship where you are living together. Air is also replaced with fresh air every 90 – 360 seconds in most aircraft today.

    Most people don’t understand or use masks correctly (flight attendant on a recent flight would talk it off to talk and wipe her face. . .IDIOT).

    People get informed from the CDC, not Donald . . let’s all inject ourselves with Lysol. . .Trump. Understand how it all works first before you start to freak out. AA has done a fine job when I have been onboard and sounds like most other airlines do too. Eventually, planes will be at 70-80% full again, there will be someone next to you and maybe masks will be madiotry, but trust me, the way most of you use them, it won’t help. SO GET INFORMED and do what you accuse other of not doing before you start to show just how stupid you are on Social Media.

  34. What an absurd complaint. Would she really feel safer if everyone had an empty seat next to them? If there’s somebody sick on a plane and they cough, a lot of people are going to be exposed. If that’s a risk you’re not willing to bear, don’t fly. She could have rented a car and drove to her destination — assuming she has a license — but she preferred the convenience of flying. Flying is probably safer than ever now, because U.S. airlines are finally being forced to employ the serious hygiene practices of Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

  35. People keep acting like the social distancing guideline isn’t all or nothing. It’s a gradient, you don’t automatically go from 0% to 100% effective just from crossing the 6 ft threshold. Think of it this way: do you think having someone sneeze right next to your face is the same as someone sneezing a shoulder length distance away? At least SOME distancing is better than NONE.

    Alaska is actually blocking the middle seat, so quit it with the “airlines is a business so they will sell every seat”. They have social responsibility, just like restaurants that are forced to close in restaurant dining and can’t sell “every seat like a business”.

  36. If you want to be on a plane better to be ready for this. Don’t expect social distancing on a plane unless you are willing to share with the other passengers the cost of the empty seats.

  37. The airlines should require the passengers to wear face masks. They should be available for sale at TSA check-in for those who do not bring their own. Face masks will not eliminate the risk, but will lessen it. Temperature checks at TSA could also be considered—-with less people flying it could be done in a timely fashion.

  38. Ben,

    I have never seen a post by you on what someone suggested in this posting’s comments: Just buy the seat(s) next to you and no one will sit there.

    BUT, is this true? Can the same person actually buy two seats in his or her name? Will their “emptiness” be a problem for the GA or onboard attendants? What if another passenger (seated in the same cabin) tries to sit there?

    I would love to know if you (or others who have done it) know more about this possibility! Even pre-COVID19, I often thought about doing it but assumed it was not possible or respected.

    Thanks greatly for OMAAT…I read it daily.

  39. For all of those saying that airlines shouldn’t have to fly lower load factors as they’re a for-profit business, then the same airlines shouldn’t come crying to taxpayers for bailouts. They should have retained cash reserves instead of effectively bankrupting themselves with stock buybacks. It would be much cheaper to have let most of the airlines temporarily cease operations and simply bail out the laid off employees. If the airlines get another injection of government money, flying lower load factors for the remainder of 2020 should be a condition.

  40. Here in South Africa we solved the problem with the tightest lockdown in the world.

    No international flights in or out with the exception of a few repatriation flights.
    NO domestic flights at all.
    Closure of all land borders.
    A ban on travelling to other provinces so you are not allowed to cross the equivalent of state lines although this is difficult to control.
    No sales of alcohol or tobacco.

  41. @George – I hope your affairs are in order.
    @George – More breaking news – the virus seems to have a propensity to target asshats .
    Safe travels!

  42. If we live in a civilized state, we are supposed to be sheltering at home (except for non-group exercise or essential shopping), wearing masks at markets or pharmacies etc., and only travelling for emergency purposes. Some would consider travel because of a family death a significant reason to travel. I seriously doubt, though, that the airlines want to encourage rules requiring people to sign a document stating why they need to be travelling.
    But to suggest that airline profits Trump safety is disgusting: insensitive, inhumane and uncivilized — but what do we expect in the U.S. nowadays. Shall we press the 737 MAX back into service before they can be certified safe so the airlines can stop losing money parking them? Shall we subsidize airlines’ purchase of more new planes and stock buy-backs even more, plus authorize them to confiscate your payments even when it is the airline that cancels a flight?
    Would it be so wrong to require that an airline that cannot comply with the public health requirements in place in a particular state notify passengers before boarding and allow them to re-book on a different flight or request a refund? After all it is the airline that was breaking the law in New York by operating a business without having proper safety limitations in place and hiding behind implied authorization as federally and not state regulated.
    As many writers suggest, this small minority of protesters against reasonable public health measures has become vocal not just protesting limitations due to public health concerns, but because they hate everything government in the public interest stands for. So take the comments of this fringe element (which seems to love commenting on this particular blog in disproportionate numbers!) with a large grain of salt.

  43. The lady complaining said she wanted to be with her “family” as her grandma died. Family to me means multiple people. Unless to her the word “family” means one single person who would need help coping/planning a funeral, etc. then this lady should have stayed home and waited for safer times to visit.

  44. Best to err on the side of caution and wear a fully enclosed space suit, as worn by Apollo astronauts on the moon, for the duration of the flight.

  45. So if the airlines cut the number of flights until all the remaining flights are fully booked and very profitable then they should be able to get along perfectly well without a government bailout.

  46. “…you’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?” Dirty Harry

  47. I’ve heard several reports from my physician colleagues who volunteered in NYC now returning home on full flights and are quite concerned. Completely agree that masks should be required on board, but middle seats should be blocked as well. I’m all for reducing environment impact, but we need to maintain the smallest effort in physical distancing. We require masks for everyone, patient, employee, or visitor, that sets foot in our hospital. Masks should be handed out at boarding by the airline.

  48. Further, every person coming into the building gets a temperature check and screen about COVID contacts. Same should be occurring at the gate. This has been done for years in other countries and it’s not too much to ask here.

  49. I was about to post how silly this mask thing is – Because MASKS DON”T PROTECT anyone – just reduces the possibility you will spray on someone if you are contagious.

    But then @sunviking82 said it so well I won’t bother.

    If you wear a mask – DON’T TOUCH IT, MOVE IT, PLAY with it, or behave like some health care workers who show they don’t understand how to use it.

    Stay safe, wash your hands, stay home and you will be much better for it.

  50. @Will Hagen

    It was the Vietnamese government’s intention to make Phu Quoc into their own Phuket. Maybe the pandemic will slow its demise into an overrun hellhole.

    @sunviking82

    The initial CDC guidance was that people should not wear masks, knowing full well their prophylactic value, because they were worried about supplies for health care workers running out. Instead of treating the public like adults, they lied to them and enabled the unchecked spread of the virus in places like New York. (Granted, rationality is obviously lacking in too many among us.) If we know public officials will lie to us, why should we ever trust them?

    If you are not of retirement age and are not fat, Vitamin D-deficient, etc., you are at very low risk of dying from COVID-19. Taking proper precautions will lower that risk even more. As for all of the people calling the government stupid for not forcing people to do the supposed right thing, isn’t it the individual who doesn’t do the right thing who is actually stupid? An intelligent person will seek out trustworthy information and act accordingly without being coerced. Should we really care about the survival of those who are too ignorant or pigheaded to do so?

  51. The old adage that you are either part of the problem or part of the solution has never been more pertinent than now. People have always had this choice. If nothing else, this woman’s outrage has at least highlighted the issue for anyone who feels the need to travel. Look for the red eye flights , the Saturday night flights or early morning Sunday flights which are traditionally avoided by most of the flying public…their pricing usually gives you a clue.

  52. @Dr Stan, it is possible to buy 2 seats for the same person. This is common for folks who tend to be very obese and would feel more comfortable sitting on 2 seats.

  53. An airplane is the perfect environment for the coronavirus to spread, even when it is only 50% full. I won’t fly until there is a vaccine, and I have been vaccinated.

  54. How have you been vaccinated when there’s no vaccine?

    So she wasn’t worried about the check-in experience, waiting at the gate, security, or being around all those other people in the airport going other places?

    I think O’Leary is right on this one.

  55. @Abe: I have not been vaccinated. Nobody has. I can’t believe unvaccinated people are willing to sit in a confined aircraft breathing the air exhaled by their fellow passengers while this virus is still widespread. Once there is a vaccine, the situation will improve.

  56. It’s not possible to buy more than one seat on a commercial airplane. If I can do that on that AA $36 fare cross country, I would do that. Sadly it’s not allowed.

    Btw, can someone explain why Florida’s death rate isn’t as high as nyc? I mean with so many retirees and people fleeing nyc to fl, I would assume fl death rate would skyrocket. So far, nowhere near nyc’s number….

  57. “Business can’t be trusted to do the right thing so the government should step in. ”

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read on here in weeks. You mean the same government that has an approval rating barely above single digits? Those clowns are the most corrupt and self serving of the bunch.

  58. @Charlie coronaviruses are notoriously difficult to vaccinate for. It is more likely than not that a vaccine will never be developed. In this case, do you plan to shelter in place for the rest of your natural life?

    Barring a medical miracle, the entire world is going to end up following the Swedish model in the short- to medium-term. Countries will need to protect the old and vulnerable; young and healthy people will need to cautiously resume normal life as the infection slowly spreads, largely asymptomatically, and some semblance of herd immunity is achieved.

    This is how we’ll get our lives—our world—back.

  59. I booked a flight on Alaska Airlines today and could not select middle seats. So yeah. Dunno what flights these people are taking, or what airline. Unless Alaska goes ahead and opens up the middle seats at check-in?

  60. @Eskimo it’s called developing herd immunity. Or we can all stay indoors for the next 27 years and hope for the best. Come on, man!

    And to answer the articles two questions:
    “Look my flight is full!” Response: F off!
    ” Should we be outraged? ” Response: No (and refer to first response for additional guidance)

  61. If Erin Strine is concerned of getting the virus herself, she should fly private or drive to her destination (and she is planning on driving now). The problem with the social distancing guidelines is that they are based on some general ideas on what should work rather than science. Look, if the chances to get sick after 14 day personal quarantine in full isolation are in single % digits, why we do not see a dramatic drop in new cases after 3+ weeks of the current lock down? Why doctors and nurses wearing professional masks are getting virus anyway? The answer is that neither are effective to the point of stopping transmission. We are only slowing it and it is even unclear by how much.
    If a person would get sick with Covid-19 for a second time, this means that there is no immunity or the virus mutates too quickly. Either way the vaccines, which are based on immunity, are also expected to fail based on this observation. You do not hear about this, because we feel better wearing the masks and staying 6 ft apart, and spraying Lysol on packages till the vaccine will come. There are no effective drugs against influenza, so do not expect one for Covid-19. So everyone would infected sooner or later (unless you are living on a small island or New Zealand) or the virus would mutate and the pandemic disappears. Till that, I expect hearing stories like this one on a regular basis for another year or so.

  62. I rarely blog directly about others comments but this just needs to be addressed.
    @Jeff Live in a country and be told what to do. How about Wuhan’s (now known) speedy recovery, due to people being “told what to do”

    And as to your comments about protecting yourself or others by wearing a mask, how kind of you to think only of yourself in deciding whether to wear one or not. THE WHOLE POINT OF MASKS IS BEING TOTALLY MISSED NOT ONLY BY YOU.

    Wearing a mask as most of Asia, especially as Japan does, is adopted when the WEARER has or suspects he/she has a cold or flu in order NOT TO SPREAD the germs. (Lucky: I’m disappointed you didn’t make this point abundantly clear)

    It’s about time the media and the public at large started to realise this.

    As well as the crew (and ground engineers who board) it’s the PASSENGERS who should be wearing masks. I would go further. EVERYONE entering an airport should wear one.

    Stepping into any confined space will increase the risk of transmission in inverse proportions to the size of the space. Therefore stepping into the confined space of an aircraft notably increases the risk of transmission to the extent that no amount of “social distancing” (an abhorrent contradiction in terms, in my view anyway) will prevent transmission and the airport environment, although considerably larger will add to that risk.

    The subject of Lucky’s blog:
    The woman is a moron.

  63. You cannot maintain social distancing on an aircraft , unless perhaps you are in Etihad Residences or purchase 10 seats
    As for going to the toilet , the person on the window has to move out and walk beside everyone on the aisle on the way there and back

    The airline can try , however cannot guarantee

  64. @UpperDeckJohnny

    When you start your post by citing the “statistics” or the overarching pronouncements out of Communist China, nothing else you say has credibility.

  65. If NY wants to stay at home for another 18 months then that’s on them. Texas is reopening this Thursday.

    It’s time the department of state and other countries start lifting the travel ban on Americans on a rolling state by state basis. I want to fly.

  66. @Alex_77 the reason why infection number has not gone down dramatically is people have not been compliant. You can easily search online to see what the compliant number is for each state. Places like Georgia has a compliant number of mid to high 20s. Doctors and nurses are getting sick is because they are constantly bombarded with people with high viral load of COVID-19 none stop. On top of that, due to low PPE supplies, they had to reuse PPEs or wear masks that are less than N95. Certainly you seen this type of report daily overall news. Assuming we get on an airplane and there is one or perhaps two asymptomatic persons on the same plane. If everyone is wearing masks, then we should all be safe. Obviously not as safe as just stay home.

    I agree with you that finding a successful vaccine within a year or two is actually fairly unrealistic. There is a much better chance of finding drugs that will lessen COVID-19 symptoms.

    Going forward it’s best that we all wear masks when we are on airplanes unless we are taking fully enclosed Emirates F seats. This way we don’t infect others with cold/ flu/ COVID-19. Nothing is more annoying than sitting next to someone who is coughing up his/ her lung.

  67. @Tim

    While I don’t know how “herd immunity” becomes an answer to my question to the now deleted @George ‘s dumb comments. I do have some comments on your response.

    What do you really know about “herd immunity”? Just because one country is gambling on a method doesn’t mean it is correct way to solve this pandemic.

    If this “herd immunity” is so great, tell me why haven’t we had “herd immunity” for HIV or even the seasonal flu, we have that for how many years? What about things we had forever like common cold?
    Yes it works for some disease that works (a lot due to mass vaccinations), but that doesn’t mean it will work on COVID-19.

    Same reason as wearing face masks without knowing why is giving a false sense of security, going out to get “herd immunity” gives you a false sense of immunity. Both these false sense can backfire and spread the virus even more.

    “Or we can all stay indoors for the next 27 years and hope for the best. Come on, man!” Already proves you are already certain this method will work for this virus, which is a very dangerous false sense of security.
    If mankind can’t find a cure or a solution and we have to stay indoors for the next decade, we will have to adapt. Otherwise, the virus will eventually make us extinct.

  68. @Robert Schrader

    Let’s see who’s economy gets up and running first. China or USA?

    Oops! to late! China.

  69. Ya!

    And their most profitable products are shoddy “made in China” Covid-19 MASKS and PPE equipment.

    Ironic?

    Or clever marketing?

    Like – let’s create a demand worldwide for PPE and make a bundle

  70. @Daryl: The USA has the most number of cases because 1) China’s not telling the full #s, 2) India’s not testing, 3) The US *is* testing and has run more tests than any other country by a long-shot. Look at the percentages and you’ll see COVID’s nowhere near as prevalent in then USA as it is many other countries.

    @Eskimo: “Herd immunity” is the ultimate goal of vaccines — to get the majority of people infected with a virus/disease and have them recover. BUT placing hope that a vaccine will be developed in under a year that will be effective is foolhardy at best. One may never be found.

  71. The things I see at my local grocery store are far more frightening than a 75% full airplane. Gotta eat though, don’t hafta fly.

  72. @Dr. Stan & @Kevin:
    Normally, it is not possible that one person books two tickets for the same flight. The airline might automatically cancel one ticket. Especially for a round-trip, one ticket would be cancelled for the return (no show).

    Actually I was going to tell you that you can reserve a seat next to you: You just have to call that you need the other seat in order to store your large music instrument (e.g. double bass). But I just found out that this is not correct: You can reserve an extra seat – but you will not have a 100% guarantee that this seat is next to your seat.
    If you cary a medical device such as a cryocooler than you have the guarantee that the seat next to you is kept free (and you even get twice the miles) – but since most people travel without cryocoolers this doesn`t apply here.

    Difficult to say now if it is possible to reserve an entire row.

  73. @AlexS:
    Bear in mind the population of the USA.
    In terms of testing, the USA is 45th in the list of tests carried out, with Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Singapore, amongst others way ahead.

    This is taken as the number of tests per 1m population. Obviously the larger the population, the larger the number of tests APPEARS to be

    And you doubt China’s figures. Haha

  74. Ridiculous non story.

    Is any airline guaranteeing that you will be ‘socially distanced’ onboard? Not that I know of.

    Is anyone holding a gun to their head and forcing them to travel?

    If you fly by air you are accepting that social distancing may not be possible.

    Simple.

  75. While Covid can be a very serious disease and also highly contagious, it’s not the Black Death or Ebola. Social distancing and good hygiene works wonders, there’s no need to go all hysterical with PPE for regular people. The vast majority (I’ve seen numbers suggesting +/-80%) experience no or mild symptoms, with the remainder suffering moderate to severe symptoms. In my country the spread has come under control, and businesses that were shut (eg hairdressers) have reopened. Same for kindergartens and primary schools. Of course we do not have the staggering proportion of people underlying health problems like obesity and diabetes like the US.

    People need to calm down, count to ten, stay home, keep their distance and maintain good hygiene.

  76. All airlines should block middle seat. Take plane capacity, account for empty middle seat, then RAISE the ticket price by 50 percent to account for the empty seat. That way, the cover the cost for flying the plane with the middle seat empty.

    The increased ticket price will also discourage those from flying who have no business flying right now.

  77. Why do we always need to apportion “blame” to something/someone BUT yourself? Wanna fly alone? Buy into a NetJets ownership plan, don’t buy a commercial airline ticket. Simple.

  78. @AlexS

    That is exactly what I’m trying to explain @Tim and why the term “Herd immunity” is being used incorrectly to give people false hope or false sense of security.
    People like @Tim are trying to return to “normal” using “Herd immunity” as an incorrect excuse.
    The media is portraying all the wrong things. This is doing more harm to people.

  79. @AlexS

    Sorry, pal. but you are wrong. The US is basically only testing more than the UK or third world countries.

    Here are the numbers as of Apr 23:

    Country Tests/Million
    Bahrain 60,000
    Israel 30,000
    Italy 27,000
    Norway 27,000
    Germany 25,000
    Switzerland 25,000
    Austria 24,000
    Ireland 22,000
    Spain 21,000
    Portugal 21,000
    New Zealand 21,000
    Hong Kong 20,000
    Denmark 20,000
    Australia 18,000
    Canada 16,000
    Belgium 15,000
    USA 13,000
    UK 6,000

  80. Clearly, Johnny’s brain does not reside on the “upper deck.” Pity.

    @Eskimo, Herd immunity does not exist for HIV because 50-80% of a population needs to contract (and thus, develop antibodies to) a virus in order for herd immunity to manifest. I hope I don’t need to explain to you why it’s a good thing this hasn’t happened.

    Seriously though, some of you need to turn off the news and get off social media. Enjoy the spring sunshine (to the greatest extent you can, anyway), and put on your thinking caps.

    The minimal risk of getting coronavirus (and for most people, the negligible risk of dying from it) pales in comparison to a decade or more of guaranteed economic misery if the lockdown drags on for the rest of 2020.

  81. you want an airline to fly at 1/6th of capacity to maintain social distancing but don’t want to pay 6X more so they stay in business. this is the same mentality of people who buy tickets on some wholesaler website but demand a free upgrade because the seats are empty.

    why is YOUR health and well-being someone else’s problem? Stay home. Problem solved.

  82. @Robert Schrader

    Yes, HIV was a trick question, it filters out people who have no clue at all. It also doesn’t work for the flu either. We know so little about COVID-19, we can’t even predict the magnitude of mutations.

    I do agree some people are too obsessed with numbers and stats. Practice safety habits and let go of the news.

    I disagree with your downplay of minimal risk. Same as CDC was doing back in Feb. People need to take this more seriously but also smartly too. I agree we need to open up the economy soon, but in a very different manner. I just wish more people can stop trying to go back to normal and accept the new normal. Yes, like 9/11 travel will never be the same, accept it.
    I feel we take the lethality of this virus for granted. We say we are not at risk group so we go out and take more risk. We never consider what if there is a virus that can spread this discrete but much more deadly. Imagine a sleeper virus with no symptom for 90 days and you just drop dead on day 91. I’m not saying we should be paranoid about this, I’m saying what can be done should be done rather than leaving ‘negligible’ up to chance.

  83. @Robert Schrader

    Gotta agree with @Eskimo on this one and add my $.02

    Whilst in Portugal we saw nightly the devastation in Northern Italy. We are currently seeing the devastation in NYC and soon New Orleans and some others that I am not following. When you see bodies in the streets and patients dying for lack of a ventilator it comes home.

    The death rate for your parent’s age group approached or exceeds 10%. In Canada the devastation in the old folks homes is tragic. Its easy to be 20 an imagine you are immune or will survive as “only” 5% of young people die (or maybe less, time will tell). If you suggest “doing nothing” because it is a “hoax” I hope you do not visit anyone who is over 60 and give them a big hug and kiss.

    By the way – the ‘economy’ was due for a big ‘reset’ over the next few years, the pandemic has possibly moved up the time frame a little.

    Hopefully by flattening the curve there will be time to develop a vaccine (things are looking good) without having to resort to what happened in Italy – triaging patients because of a lack of health care equipment or personnel. (In case you didn’t know – the triage is to only treat the sick who are guaranteed to survive which means all the ‘old folks’ need not apply).

    I admit my bias – I am a very healthy old fart 75+ and I see some very ‘at risk’ people in my cohort that I would not like to lose. On the other hand there is a risk that the economy will suffer for a few years so I understand your concern.

    It looks like social isolation has worked very well when people buy into it. There are some very tragic circumstances in the making where some communities are playing silly games just because they want to be “free” to do any damn thing they want irrespective of the massive impact on the rest of the community. If there was a way to isolate these idiots then it would be wonderful to stick them somewhere “free” where they could only do harm to themselves. It would be a wonderful example of what we fondly call “THE DARWIN EFFECT”. If only we could.

  84. Lets be clear here, airlines need to make money to survive just like any other fricking company. Quit whining about a company making money, read a book on economics or two. As for your own personal safety, you go to a store to buy food or a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. Every person you come into contact with may make you sick. Lets put it into another way I use to do consulting for a company that performed HIV resistance testing. Two things are important to remember, people would get infected say screw it and have sex with another infected person. the end result was now the person would have two or more strains of the virus making treatment more difficult which is paid for courtesy of the US taxpayer. The other point is if people practiced safe sex, the virus would die out and that company would be out of business. Shit people most of you had to be reminded to wash your hands. We’re adults and need to be responsible for our actions, not blame an airline a store or the government. Wash your hands, and wear a face mask around people. Its that simple.

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