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"Starting next week, customers on flights that are expected to be closer to full capacity can rebook on a different flight or receive a travel credit. We’ll do our best to reach out about 24 hours before departure and we’ll also provide options at the gate," United said in a tweet.
Dr. Ethan Weiss, who was recently on a United flight home to California after volunteering at a New York City hospital, said every seat on the carrier's 737 was full and that passengers were "scared."
Other United passengers posted photos of crowded cabins.
Weiss said 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."
A 76-year-old New Jersey woman told The New York Post her United flight from San Juan to Houston last week was packed and that the crew did not force the passenger next to her to wear a mask.
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“I had three friends who came in — one on JetBlue, one on American and one on Southwest — and they all had the middle seat empty,” Mary Pearson told the Post. “Maybe I should have checked with United beforehand, but it was really upsetting getting on the plane to see what was happening.”
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."
The airline is adapting to the pandemic and will start giving passengers hand sanitizer wipes and providing face coverings if needed.
“We’ve overhauled our cleaning and safety procedures and implemented a new boarding and deplaning process to promote social distancing," a United spokesperson told FOX Business on Monday.