NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As stay-at-home orders begin lifting across the country, some airlines are seeing fuller planes and it has some passengers confused over social distancing rules on flights.
Sarah Lewitinn, dressed head to toe in a homemade garbage bag gown, showed CBS2’s Christina Fan her packed flight from JFK to LAX this week.
She says she put together an extreme but necessary outfit to protect herself after seeing concerning photos of overcrowded planes.
“As soon as it was time to get off the plane, I was really disturbed by how much of a cattle call situation it was,” she said.
U.S. airlines have drawn a lot of criticism in recent weeks over confusing social distancing guidelines.
There is no government standard.
While an internal memo from Southwest Airlines obtained by CNN instructs crew members not to stop passengers from boarding if they refuse to wear a mask, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes has taken the opposite approach.
“We’re asking all of our customers to wear masks, because when you’re in an airline seat, even when you’re keeping the middle seat free, you’re not going to be six feet away from someone,” Hayes said.
When it comes to those middle seats, some airlines went back on their word after pledging to block them out.
Travel editor Peter Greenberg is not surprised.
He says keeping the center seat open is just not financially feasible.
“Their entire business model is predicated on filling all those seats. And if they didn’t, the cost of your airline ticket would go up between $80 and $300 a flight,” he said.
For now, packed flights are the exception, but as travel picks back up, passengers are hoping there is some sort of standardization of social distancing rules.
“I don’t know if airlines are really practicing that as much as they should,” Lewitinn said.
Experts say the industry has made several changes to lower possible exposure, from changing boarding practices to getting rid of paper boarding passes.