Airlines Have Been Misleading Passengers About Safety. Should You Fly?

TSA Covid Numbers

Airlines have been misleading passengers about onboard coronavirus safety to garner profit, and many have been caught in the act for disguising social distancing and face mask regulations. Should you be more concerned about your safety?

Before I discuss how airlines have been misleading the public with ambiguous airline Covid regulations, let’s first understand why.

Due to the impact from coronavirus, airlines are predicted to lose up to $252 billion in revenue this year. Clearly, that’s a lot of money, and airlines are still doing whatever they can to get passengers to continue flying. One may think: The damage is astronomical (US airlines reported losing $534 million so far this year), and quite frankly, it’s already done…

So why are airlines trying to woo passengers during a pandemic, even when airlines have been offered $50 billion in grants and loans from the US stimulus package, flying now compromises passenger safety and recovery is years away?

Because airlines are still flying planes, even if there’s 1 passenger aboard (we explain why airlines must continue to fly here), and it’s better to profit as much as you can on empty flights.

Airlines coronavirus safety
Do you feel safe flying when no one wears a mask?

For decades, airlines have nickel-and-dimed passengers, so we shouldn’t feel bad for them. We need them to learn to be better. They will have to come out of the pandemic with a new plan where both flight crew and passengers are safe and satisfied. Some airlines, like Delta, have been more thoughtful than others with airline covid regulations during the pandemic, but at the end of the day, airlines will hoodwink all they can to squeeze every penny out of you. 

Recently, however, several airlines have stooped to a new low. 

Recently, American Airlines received backlash for cramming several flights, up to 90 percent occupancy, after stating on its website it would implement strict social distancing. Many angry passengers went public, and American has since apologized. Other airlines were also called out. 

Now, here’s where airlines have been caught misleading the public again regarding airline Covid regulations.

airline covid regulations
Flights could be extremely crowded during coronavirus pandemic.

In May 2020, most US airlines announced they would require passengers to wear face masks on board all flights. This included Delta, American, United and JetBlue. However, it was recently revealed by Reuters that U.S airlines have told crew not to enforce passengers to wear face masks. This applies to Delta, American and United. 

According to the report, flight attendants will “encourage” passengers to wear face masks (not require them to wear face masks), even though the airlines publicly mandated it. This means that passengers can take their masks off during the flight, which defeats the purpose of the airlines covid regulations.

“Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy,” American told its pilots in a message provided by Reuters.

Face mask requirement is enforced at the gate while boarding, according to American spokesperson Joshua Freed, though not enforced during the flight.

Airline not requiring face mask
Would you fly during the pandemic?

“Airlines are implementing policies on the fly with essentially no coordination or direction from the federal government,” Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing nearly 50,000 flight attendants at 19 airlines, told Reuters. “We need federal requirements that mitigate risk during this pandemic and put the safety of crews and the traveling public first.”

The New York Times reported recently that respiratory droplets can be suspended in the air for 14 minutes, and because airlines have no system to test passengers for Covid before boarding the flight, enforcing a face mask seems like a logical solution.

On May 18, Conde Nast Traveler pointed out that airlines are misleading passengers about refund policies, in response to The US Department of Transportation issuing a guidance on requirements. The notice states that airlines have an obligation to provide a refund to a tickets passenger when the carrier cancels or significantly changes the passenger’s flight.

More stories:

9 airline predictions based on aftermath of 9/11 and Great Recession (2008)

7 positive predictions for travel after coronavirus pandemic

How 11 major hotel chains have responded to the coronavirus pandemic.

When can we travel again? Here’s the $2 trillion dollar answer. 

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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