Why Are Some Planes So Packed With Passengers in a Pandemic? - The New York Times

Just a few weeks ago, people were posting photos and stories on social media of virtually empty flights, relishing in personalized service and not having to worry about social-distancing.

Now, some travelers are complaining about the opposite, flying on planes that are surprisingly full. They are frustrated that airlines aren’t doing more to space people out or limit the number of passengers.

Even though most flights are generally empty, some continue to fly at or near capacity. Take the United Airlines flight from Newark to San Francisco that Ethan Weiss, a doctor from California, wrote about on Twitter on Saturday in a series of messages that were widely shared.

“This is the last time I’ll be flying again for a very long time,” he wrote, after posting a photograph of a full plane cabin.

On that flight, only 25 of the 166 available seats were empty, according to United. But the carrier said in a statement that the vast majority of its flights — 85 percent — were less than half full.

Starting next week through June, United said, it will “do our best” to notify customers about a day in advance if they are booked on a flight that is more than 70
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