Selling To Full Capacity | American Airlines Say No To ‘Empty Seat’ Proposal
WASHINGTON: American Airlines said on Friday, June 26, that it will no longer restrict the number of seats sold on flights beginning July 1, in an effort to come back from the impact of the coronavirus.
The announcement comes before a meeting between the Chief Executives of major U.S. airlines, including American, and senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, at the White House to discuss several virus-related travel issues.
U.S. airlines are bleeding cash as travel suffers in the pandemic and have warned that capping seats sold on each flight to allow for more space between passengers is not viable.
American was previously limiting its seating capacity at 85% on each flight, or roughly 50% of the main cabin middle seats.
The company said it will notify customers if their flight is going to be full and allow them to move to more open flights when available, mirroring a policy by United Airlines.
Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines have said they will continue limiting their seating capacity through September.
The Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines’ pilots, has called for the government to subsidize empty seats to help people feel more comfortable about flying and create a level playing field.
Among measures to reassure passengers, airlines are touting deep cleaning and hospital-grade air filters. American said it had teamed up with Vanderbilt University Medical Center on health and cleaning matters and will begin asking customers on June 30 during the check-in process to certify that they have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for the past 14 days.
U.S. passenger numbers have rebounded from lows reached in April, but there is growing concern about the impact of a fresh spike in coronavirus cases in a number of U.S. states, including Texas, where American is based.