Airline Shrugged Off Social-Distancing Rules

According to flight attendants who say 11 passengers were forced into 3 rows
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2020 11:50 AM CDT
Airline Forced 11 Fliers Into the Last 3 Rows
These are some of the 88 American Airlines planes stored at Pittsburgh International Airport in Imperial, Pa., on Tuesday, March 31, 2020.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Some bad press for American Airlines: Three flight attendants tell Mother Jones they were forced to keep 11 passengers—the only ones on board—confined to the last three rows despite social-distancing rules. "The reasoning behind it is, well, they bought basic economy fares, so we can't put them further up in the cabin, because that would be an upgrade," says one of the whistleblowers. So the attendants "took it upon ourselves to spread them out" on the March 24 flight, she explains. American issued a "relaxed seating" policy that day allowing gate agents to space out fliers (or fliers to change seats on their own) but the airline apparently kept imposing price tiers anyway.

One frequent flier says she's also experienced the back-row cram on American: "This was on March 7th from JFK to LAX—all passengers were shoved in the last 8 rows and had about 12 rows free," Katie Levine, an LA-based photographer, tells the New York Post. "We weren't allowed to spread out because it was 'extra legroom seats.' ... It was absolutely insane." Word is the airline also won't give attendants hand sanitizer, and only allowed face masks in late March if they're a neutral color. But it's not all bad for American: ABC7 News reports that a woman flying to see her dying mother was the only passenger and got bumped to first class. "I want them to know how much it meant to me," she tells CNN. "It was super positive, which I didn't expect from that trip." (Read more American Airlines stories.)

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