NEW YORK (1010 WINS) – A doctor who has been helping New York City battle the coronavirus this past month got onboard a flight back to California to find people “scared” and “shocked” by how packed the plane was.
Dr. Ethan Weiss, a University in San Francisco cardiologist, posted a photo of the packed United plane from Newark Airport on Saturday.
“I guess @united is relaxing their social distancing policy these days? Every seat full on this 737,” Weiss wrote.
“This is the last time I’ll be flying again for a very long time,” Weiss wrote, later adding that “people on this plane are scared/shocked.”
Weiss wrote that an email from United on April 30 noted that “we’re automatically blocking middle seats to give you enough space on board.” But the photo from Weiss showed many middle seats with people in them.
Weiss said that United flew him and the other medical workers for free and that they “got a lot of great PR for taking great care of us on the way out, including from me.” He said "they could have avoided this by just communicating better."
United released a statement to ABC News in response to Weiss’ concerns:
"We've overhauled our cleaning and safety procedures and implemented a new boarding and deplaning process to promote social distancing. 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.
Last month, we began limiting advanced seat selection for adjacent seats in all cabins, including middle seats where available and alternating window and aisle seats when seats are in pairs.
Though we cannot guarantee that all customers will be seated next to an unoccupied seat, based on historically low travel demand and the implementation of our various social distancing measures that is the likely outcome."