American Airlines removes coronavirus passenger caps starting July 1
American’s latest move matches the policy of United Airlines but contrasts sharply with rivals
American Airlines says it will resume selling every seat available on its flights next Wednesday, lifting a precaution taken to curb infection risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1," the carrier announced Friday.
Passengers will be notified of full flights and allowed to change flights at no cost, the airline said. They will also be able to switch seats, if there's room, as long as they stay in the same cabin.
The move from American comes even as the number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 40,000, eclipsing a record set on April 24, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the number of cases around the world since the outbreak began.
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Since April, American has limited bookings to about 85 percent of a plane’s capacity by leaving about half the middle seats open to maintain a safe distance between occupants during flight.
The carrier's latest change matches the policy of United Airlines but contrasts with rivals including Delta, Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue that continue to limit bookings.
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Some of those four have promised to continue such practices through September.
|DAL||DELTA AIR LINES INC.||36.38||+0.05||+0.14%|
|LUV||SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.||29.11||-0.76||-2.54%|
|JBLU||JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP.||6.83||0.00||0.00%|
United and American argue that other steps they take — including stepped-up cleaning procedures and requiring all passengers to wear face coverings — eliminate the need to block some seats.
Additionally, American says it will begin asking fliers June 30 to certify that they have been symptom-free for 14 days using a checklist developed with Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
United CEO Scott Kirby has said social distancing is impossible on planes anyway; that even with empty middle seats, people are less than six feet away from each other.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.