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United Airlines responded Monday after a doctor who was on a flight home after volunteering at a New York City hospital said every seat on the carrier's 737 was full.
"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," a United spokesperson told FOX Business.
“We’ve overhauled our cleaning and safety procedures and implemented a new boarding and deplaning process to promote social distancing," the spokesperson added.
On May 9, Dr. Ethan Weiss posted a picture on Twitter that showed a plane appearing to be full of passengers and with middle seats occupied.
"I guess United is relaxing their social distancing policy these days? Every seat full on this 737," Dr. Ethan Weiss wrote on Twitter.
Weiss said that passengers were "scared/shocked" and that United should have communicated better after sending an email to customers on April 30 promising that "[w]e're automatically blocking middle seats to give you enough space on board."
United's website says that the airline cannot guarantee passengers will be next to unoccupied seats but "based on historically low travel demand and the implementation of our various social distancing measures that is the likely outcome."
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A number of major carriers have rolled out new safety measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.