The chairman of the House Transportation Committee called on airlines Thursday to dramatically cut back the number of seats they offer on aircraft to promote social distancing.
Rep. Peter DeFazio said he was acting after seeing a tweeted photo from a physician on a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, that showed passengers in every seat. Dr. Ethan Weiss’ tweets said passengers, including a group of 25 fellow health workers like himself who had been caring for coronavirus patients in New York, were “shocked” and “scared” at the sight of a full Boeing 737.
“I would be, too, if I were about to spend the next five hours sealed in a tube with up to 184 passengers, all seated inches from one another, and any number of whom could be a carrier of COVID-19,” wrote DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, in letters to two industry groups, Airlines for America and the National Air Carrier Association.
Many airlines say they have been voluntarily leaving middle seats empty on flights in order to promote social distancing.