Airline passenger describes packed flight to NYC surrounded by people not wearing masks

NY Post | by Yaron Steinbuch |April 23, 2020

american-airlines-flight-e1587660106256A Manhattan woman who flew on an American Airlines flight from Miami to LaGuardia says she was shocked that the flight was packed full — and about half the passengers did not wear masks despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Angie Wong, 42, told The Post that Flight 2669 was between 80 percent and 90 percent full Wednesday when she boarded the plane for her 10:19 a.m. flight to the Big Apple while wearing a surgical mask, face shield, gloves and a hoodie.

“I could tell passengers were very nervous that masks were not mandated,” said Wong, a stay-at-home mom from Soho who has been staying with her husband and two kids, ages 5 and 7, in Miami since Mayor Bill de Blasio announced city schools would be closed.

Wong said social distancing rules were strictly enforced at Miami’s airport, but that passengers were crammed together on her flight — about half without masks, though a couple of people wore full hazmat suits.

She shared several photos she snapped of the cramped cabin, showing some passengers with masks and gloves while others dispensed with the protective measures.

“I asked how this was allowed during distancing requirements, and got ‘nothing we can do about it’ shrugs and offered an 800 number to change my reservation,” she said.

“Even the pilot came on mid-flight to apologize for the cramped conditions. Unlike in Canada, masks were not mandated to fly. No temperature checks,” she continued.

“Though I did ask to be sat in an emptier part of the plane — and was told the airline could not accommodate — I did not realize how packed the flight was until I boarded,” she said.

At the gate, she said, an airline rep said that “if American Airlines sells 150 seats, they will board 150 seats — it’s a business.”

“We are all learning to adapt to the new social norms, but businesses are still operating in the old paradigm and need to pivot for public safety. I feel airlines should consider temporary policies to match the current federal mandates of social distancing and mask wearing,” Wong said.

In a statement, American Airlines said that “to encourage social distancing, gate agents will reassign seats to create more space between customers. Once on board — provided there aren’t any aircraft weight or balance restrictions — customers can move to another seat within their ticketed cabin subject to availability.”

The airline said it now also blocks “50 percent of standard middle seats” on all its flights.

“Our team also monitors flights closely to maintain social distancing,” a rep told The Post in an email, adding that “we encourage our customers to follow CDC guidelines.”

The CDC, however, does not require passengers to wear masks.

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