United Airlines in Hot Water After Doctor Shares Photo of Flight Packed With ‘Scared’ Passengers

United Airlines released a statement reiterating its cleaning and safety protocol, although the airline offered no comment on their current middle-seat policy ...

United Airlines has found themselves in some hot water this week after a photo went viral showing one of their airplanes packed with passengers in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fox News reported that the photo was tweeted out by Dr. Ethan Weiss, a cardiologist and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco. The doctor said that he won’t be “flying again for a very long time” after every seat on his Saturday flight was full despite the fact that United had previously assured him that they would be blocking off every middle seat so that they could follow social distancing guidelines.

“I guess @United is relaxing their social distancing policy these days? Every seat full on this 737,” Weiss captioned the tweet.

Weiss went on to share screenshots of emails that he’d received from United on April 30 saying that they would be “automatically blocking middle seats to give you enough space on board.”

“We are about to land & I just wanted to say a few things. 1) People on this plane are scared/ shocked. 2) I have no idea why most of them are traveling. 3) I am with a group of 25 nurses and doctors who have been working in NYC hospitals for the past 2-4 weeks. We are coming home,” Weiss later added.

Both Weiss and United Airlines have since confirmed that he was with a group of 25 doctors and nurses that had initially flown the New York area in the past few weeks to volunteer to help out on the frontlines of COVID-19. United had flown the group to New York for free, and Weiss himself said that they got “a lot of great PR” following the initial flight in April, “including from me.” That’s partly why he was so baffled at how much the airline dropped the ball on his return flight.

United Airlines released a statement reiterating its cleaning and safety protocol, although the airline offered no comment on their current middle-seat policy.

“We’ve overhauled our cleaning and safety procedures and implemented a new boarding and deplaning process to promote social distancing,” United said in the statement. “Our flight to San Francisco had an additional 25 medical professionals on board who were flying for free to volunteer their time in New York — we’ve provided complimentary flights for more than 1,000 doctors and nurses in the past few weeks alone — and all passengers and employees were asked to wear face coverings, consistent with our new policy.”

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