Overcrowded Flight Causes Fears Over Lack Of Social Distancing

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An American Airlines passenger says she was stunned and even cried after boarding a packed flight from New York’s JFK Airport bound for Charlotte.

“I really started to panic.  I was thinking like, can I get off the plane?  Should I get off the plane? How much danger am I really in,” says Erin Strine, passenger.  She recorded video showing people sitting in nearly every seat.  No possible way to socially distance.

“I got to my seat and my entire row was full, I was sitting in the middle seat. and looking around and realizing that not everyone around me was wearing a mask,” she says. “They actually came over the intercom to say that there would not be any ability to social distance on this flight that it was a very full flight and that everyone needed to return to their original seats,” says Strine.

Strine traveled to Chapel Hill to visit her family after her grandmother recently died.  She and everyone else on board traveling from the current epicenter of this pandemic.  There are more than 288,000 people infected with COVID-19 in New York State.

An American Airlines Spokesperson tells WCCB Charlotte they began relaxing seating policies on flights last month in response to CDC social distancing guidelines.

The airline said “To encourage social distancing, gate agents will re-assign seats to create more space between customers.  Once on board, customers can move to another seat within their cabin subject to availability.”  American Airlines did not comment about this particular flight.

Starting May 1, American says its flight attendants will wear masks and it will offer personal protective equipment to customers.