CDC Director Disappointed American Airlines Will Pack Planes

CDC Director Disappointed American Airlines Will Pack Planes

American Airlines' decision to open up middle seats for booking has drawn criticism from both the director of the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), virologist Dr. Robert Redfield, and White House Coronavirus Task Force member, immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci.

American Airlines plans to increase its capacity on Wednesday.

Redfield fielded questions from Sen. "We don't think it's the right message". Bernie Sanders during a Senate health committee hearing. Those who are not nostalgic for the pre-COVID travel norms can move to less crowded flights if they are available and don't cost more. He said American was also giving customers the option of changing their ticket if their flight might be full.

Blocking middle seats is a "PR strategy, not a safety strategy", Chief Communications Officer Josh Earnest said, adding that face masks, together with other safety measures the airline has implemented, continue to be the best way to prevent the spread of the virus.

Many airline flights were almost empty in the early weeks of the outbreak, with the average dipping to about 10 passengers, according to industry figures.

Other major carriers like Delta, Southwest, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue have all committed to continue blocking middle seats in an effort to comply with CDC-recommended social distancing coronavirus protocols through at least July. Some days, there were fewer than 100,000 people flying in the United States, a level not seen since the 1950s, except in the days following the September 2001 terror attacks.

Air travel demand, which rose steadily in May and June from pandemic-linked lows in April, "has flattened out over the past week or so", Ankit Gupta, United's vice president of Domestic Network Planning, told journalists.

Starting Wednesday, however, American Airlines is resuming the sale of the entirety of its planes' seats, so that you could conceivably board a full flight soon if you choose to fly with the airline.

David Koenig reported from Dallas.

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