American Airlines said in a Friday press release that it will begin booking flights to capacity on July 1 as more people become willing to travel and restrictions on business travel are increasingly lifted.
“As more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1,” the press release read. The airline also said it would allow passengers to move to less crowded flights if space is available and they prefer to do so.
The airline had been blocking off 50% of main cabin middle seats prior to these changes. Other airlines including Delta, Southwest and JetBlue have been blocking off all middle seats.
Customers will be notified if their flight is fully booked so they can make changes. The airline is already allowing fee-free changes to flights until September 30, even if they change their destination or date.
Face coverings required
American has required all passengers to wear face coverings in order to fly and has limited the ability to fly if unwilling to wear them, The Hill reported.
The airline has also encouraged airports to require masks, but not all have done so. As of June 30, American will ask passengers to confirm that they have been free of COVID-19 symptoms for the last 14 days, Forbes reported.
The policy changes come as cases are spiking in parts of more than 20 U.S. states, including Texas, Florida, and California.
American Airlines stock dropped 2.2% on Friday amid broader market declines, Forbes noted, although the new policy on bookings was not known to be specifically responsible.
Cleaning processes detailed
The airline’s press release detailed cleaning procedures used by the airline to reduce the possibility of the virus transmitting across surfaces between flights.
Seats, buckles, and trays are all disinfected by hand, and electrostatic sprays are used weekly to kill viruses and bacteria. The sprays provide ongoing protection for seven days.
HEPA filtration also recycles all the cabin air every 2-4 minutes, and food and beverage availability has been limited to avoid close contact. Airport areas controlled by American are also being frequently cleaned.
Even with all of these precautions, close contact such as what might occur sitting close to someone in an airline seat may still be able to transmit the virus, however.