Coronavirus: Passenger stunned at lack of social distancing on packed flight from New York to NC

A passenger recently took a video of a packed American Airlines flight from New York headed to Charlotte, North Carolina.

Erin Strine said she was traveling to Raleigh to be with her family because her grandmother recently passed away.

Strine said she was stunned to be on a flight that appeared to be completely full, and she was really concerned because she sat in a middle seat.

“This was a flight coming from the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S.,” she said.

Strine posted a short video on Twitter as passengers took their seats.

It shows a packed flight. Several people can be seen wearing masks, but not everyone, including a woman in the seat right behind Strine.

Then she heard an announcement over the plane’s speakers about social distancing.

"They specifically said we would not be able to social distance and for everyone to take precautions for themselves, you know, if you need to cough or sneeze to turn your head," she told Charlotte's WSOC-TV.

Explore>> Watch the video here

Strine said she’s never felt less safe.

”I kind of just sat there and cried because I was just very overwhelmed. I had a thought of, ‘I should get off the plane,’” she said.

She stayed on the flight but said she would have liked to see flights at half-capacity.

She said if that can’t happen, then they "need to require everyone, for the safety of all the people around them, to wear masks.”

American Airlines responded in a statement, saying the passengers are allowed to move their seats to socially distance if there is space.

The carrier added: “Our team also monitors flights closely to maintain social distancing.”

American is also buying masks for its front line workers to wear, and they will be required for flight attendants during every mainline and regional flight starting May 1.

Several American Airlines flight attendants raised concerns about their safety. At least 100 American Airlines flight attendants tested positive. Meanwhile, United Airlines became the first airline to require attendants to wear masks.

Airlines for America sent WSOC the following statement:

"The safety and wellbeing of passengers and crew is the top priority of U.S. airlines. This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation and U.S. carriers remain in close contact with Congress, the Administration, federal agencies and public health experts. U.S. airlines have been taking substantial, proactive steps to protect passengers and employees throughout this crisis. A4A's member carriers all comply with or exceed CDC's recommended cleaning protocols, in some cases to include electrostatic cleaning and fogging procedures. Carriers are working around the clock to sanitize cockpits, cabins and key touchpoints – including tray tables, arm rests, seatbelts, buttons, vents, handles and lavatories – with CDC-approved disinfectants. And, airlines have increased the frequency of deep cleaning procedures for both domestic and international flights. In addition to enhancing sanitation procedures, carriers have also implemented a range of policies – including back-to-front boarding, blocking middle seats and adjusting food and beverage services – to help ensure the wellbeing of passengers and crew. Additionally, all travelers are encouraged to follow CDC guidance, including frequent hand-washing, cloth face coverings and staying home when ill."

About the Author