Air travel was one of the first industries to completely collapse due to COVID-19. After all, no one wants to spend a few hours breathing the same atmosphere as every other stressed passenger. However, the airline industry felt it had suffered financial shocks long enough.
Starting July 1, American Airlines will begin filling back-to-back flights, potentially erasing the social gap that makes flying possible for many. American Airlines currently does not fill 15% of the seats. Other airlines could follow suit with loosening this guidance, while United and low-cost carrier Spirit has never implemented an in-flight distance adjustment policy. That doesn’t mean people completely abandon the adjustments they’ve made, such as blocking the middle seats and notifying customers when the flight is full during sales.
Southwest and Delta have not announced any easing, which could be pivotal as dozens of states begin to see new highs in infection rates. Some states are enacting interstate travel restrictions and plan to reopen in 11 states are halting efforts to contain the virus. Even international travel is a problem now, as the European Union reopens to member states but bans Americans from entering the country due to COVID.
The best thing we can all do to keep ourselves and each person safe is to wear a mask and be cautious. Designers have envisioned other ways to make flying safer in the era of the coronavirus, but for now, be aware that not every airline has a unified means of confronting it.