No masks, distancing amid coronavirus: Pictures of American Air flights cause uproar

An American Air Lines plane is seen on the tarmac of Washington Dulles International Airport. (File photo: AFP)

At least two dozen people on social media recently shared pictures of seemingly full flights, saying they were American Air flights and that the airline was not capping the number of passengers on each flight, and that social distancing, a precaution against the spread of coronavirus, was not being practiced aboard their aircraft.

The US airline replied to many of their posts saying it was doing everything it can to create more space and that it "flight loads have been capped" to limit the number of passengers.

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A Twitter user named Ben Leonard posted a picture of a seemingly full airplane and said: “Complete full flight on American Air SFO (San Fransisco) to Dallas/Fort Worth this morning.”

The airline replied: “Our flight loads have been capped to limit the amount of travelers on board.”

Another user named Katherine replied to the airline’s tweet with a picture of a woman without a face mask, behind what appears to be an American Air counter, saying: “Any response to your crew taking on and off their face coverings while helping passengers this morning?”

To which the airline replied: “This has been sent to our leadership team at the airport for further review and handling internally.”

Other people shared more pictures, alleging that American Air was operating flights at full capacity without keeping a seat empty between every two passengers and was not ensuring people wore face masks.


Many of the flights in question appear to be domestic flights within the US.

A Twitter user named Sierra, sent a direct tweet to the airline saying: “I was put in a middle seat for my 2nd flight today to go home from working at my home hospital... thought you guys weren't putting people in the middle to promote social distancing since you can't force anyone to actually wear a mask...?”

To which the airline replied: “Sorry for any confusion, Sierra. We're blocking 50 percent of the middle seats on board to create more space. Look here: https://connectaa.co/COVID-19.”

However, Sierra replied: “50 percent doesn’t create more space for the people who have to sit in a full row, so how do you pick and choose whose safety is most important to say who gets more space? That's an insane policy that makes no sense.”

Twitter user Suzi Day also shared a picture of what seems to be a full airplane and said: “Hey American Air I sure hope you respect physical distancing on your flights if you want people to start flying again. Sister’s flight today was packed from SAN (San Diego) to PHX (Phoenix, Arizona). Most rows all three seats taken & not members of same family. This shot taken before all had boarded.”

American Air replied to her saying they were making many strides to ensure everyone is safe while flying aboard their aircraft and shared the link to their website’s coronavirus information page.

Suzi then said: “Thank you for your quick response and sharing the link but nothing mentions number of passengers on flight. Sitting shoulder to shoulder isn’t really physical distancing. Other airlines are keeping middle seats open.”

Another user named Mike Defferding sent a direct tweet to the airline as well, with another picture showing a seemingly full flight and said: “American Air seriously. Saying that you are capping the number of passengers and actually doing it are two very different things. EVERY seat is full.”

To which another user named Jennifer Stone replied: “Literally the same thing happened to us on BOTH of our connecting flights. Customer Service told us that there was nothing they would do to grantee our safety on the flight. American Air puts profits over protection.”


Another user named Brianne Mattila shared a screenshot of what is allegedly a message from American Airlines saying that her flight from PDX (Portland) on May 27 was “filling up”.

She said: “Hey American Air I thought y’all said you were capping flights at 50 percet capacity to ensure social distancing of 6 feet... how in the world then is my flight filling up?!?”

The airline replied: “We know customers still have places to be, and safety is important. We're doing all we can to ensure space is created during your flight.”

She then asked: “How are you doing everything you can? Multiple times your company has said you are capping flights at 50 percent capacity and yet I’m about to hop on a full flight in two days.”

American Air simply replied requesting that she send them her “record locator” and they will “take a quick look.”


The airline says on its official website that face covering is required while flying aboard its planes, “except for very young children or anyone with a condition that prevents them from wearing one.”

As for seat assignments, American Air says: “We’re making more standard seats available on the seat map and restricting access to some seats, when possible, to give you more space.”

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Last Update: Tuesday, 26 May 2020 KSA 10:23 - GMT 07:23
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