Travel

Critics not on board with Canadian airlines' decision to relax in-flight physical distancing during COVID-19

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 10th, 2020 11:01 am
[OP]
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Critics not on board with Canadian airlines' decision to relax in-flight physical distancing during COVID-19

Critics not on board with airlines' decision to relax in-flight physical distancing during COVID-19
Relaxing physical distancing on flights contradicts guidance from the federal government but is in line with recommendations from the United Nations aviation agency and the trade organization for the world's major airlines, which called for an end to in-flight physical distancing rules in May.
Quelle surprise! Airline industry trade groups, all of whom must have a phalanx of the best epidemiologists and infection control specialists on staff, are OK with cramming more sardines in the can.

But even worse is the bait-and-switch:
Antonio said she and her husband are going on a business trip they were supposed to take in March but chose to delay because of the pandemic. She said the main reason they felt comfortable booking the flight now was because WestJet said explicitly during the ticket-booking process that the middle seat would be empty.

"We took some comfort in this option," she said. "Seeing that me and my husband are from the same household, we thought, 'Oh that's great. We're going to have a row to ourselves.'"

Antonio said she was upset when she found out that the middle seat could be filled from a tweet sent by her friend, not from the airline.

"You're selling us something that you're not providing," she said.
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Oct 3, 2013
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Ironic that they dismiss "guidance" when it doesn't suit their agenda, yet treat it above law when it suddenly becomes favourable (i.e. CTA Statements).

It was going to happen at some point. From a financial perspective, it makes sense... cut the number of flights, but carry more passengers per run. Certainly scummy though that they've used that as a huge selling point over the last few months, then take it away with just a few days notice. That said, anybody who thought the skipped middle seat had some sort of altruistic motivation, instead of being another marketing ploy, doesn't understand business very well.
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If people are afraid to fly they can just speak with their wallets and not fly - simple. It was never going to be economical for airlines to fly half-empty planes. Anyone who expected that to continue indefinitely was just being unrealistic.
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Can't please everyone. No matter what is done, someone will complain.
Reduce seating, increase ticket prices ....complain
Decrease flights to prevent spread....complain
Take temps, social distancing in airports....complain
No food or drinks onboard....complain
Increase seating....complain
Increase flights....complain
As gei said, "speak with their wallets and not fly - simple".
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I'm sure the price won't be any different if there was social distancing.

You go through three hours of social distancing at the airport and then whatever number of hours on a cramped plane but mask wearing and the airplane HEPA filter will save the day!

The UK requires a contact address and if there is a positive test on the plane you may be forced into a 14 day quarantine and most likely at your own expense. I'm sure other countries will be the same.
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cardle wrote: I'm sure the price won't be any different if there was social distancing.

You go through three hours of social distancing at the airport and then whatever number of hours on a cramped plane but mask wearing and the airplane HEPA filter will save the day!

The UK requires a contact address and if there is a positive test on the plane you may be forced into a 14 day quarantine and most likely at your own expense. I'm sure other countries will be the same.
The aircraft recirculating air filters will not "save the day" LOL
The air is definitely filtered but, it circulates amongst all passengers before returning to the system.
https://aviation.stackexchange.com/ques ... passengers
[OP]
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Pete_Coach wrote: Can't please everyone. No matter what is done, someone will complain....
The couple was promised social-distancing by means of an empty middle seat. They bought tickets based on that commitment. Then WS withdrew that commitment without notice and without compensation. In what universe is that acceptable business practice? In what universe isn't that a valid reason for the couple to complain?
As gei said, "speak with their wallets and not fly - simple".
If they cancel now because WS broke their end of the bargain, how likely are they to get a full refund of the money they paid? (Somewhere between diddly-squat and bupkis.)
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bylo wrote: The couple was promised social-distancing by means of an empty middle seat. They bought tickets based on that commitment. Then WS withdrew that commitment without notice and without compensation. In what universe is that acceptable business practice? In what universe isn't that a valid reason for the couple to complain?

If they cancel now because WS broke their end of the bargain, how likely are they to get a full refund of the money they paid? (Somewhere between diddly-squat and bupkis.)
If they thought having middle seats empty on a plane was going to make any difference at all, then they were delusional to begin with anyway.
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gei wrote: If they thought having middle seats empty on a plane was going to make any difference at all, then they were delusional to begin with anyway.
It's a dog and pony show.
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Phonophoresis wrote: Ironic that they dismiss "guidance" when it doesn't suit their agenda, yet treat it above law when it suddenly becomes favourable (i.e. CTA Statements).
Shame on the airlines but in my experience, most people with decision-making authority do this unfortunately. However, having said this I think people CHOOSING to travel during the pandemic regardless of what the airlines tell them, the responsibility is still on the passengers, I have no sympathy.
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Pete_Coach wrote: Can't please everyone. No matter what is done, someone will complain.
Reduce seating, increase ticket prices ....complain
Decrease flights to prevent spread....complain
Take temps, social distancing in airports....complain
No food or drinks onboard....complain
Increase seating....complain
Increase flights....complain
As gei said, "speak with their wallets and not fly - simple".
But that's not the Canadian way. Canadians love to whine and moan about things but then keep lining up for more. This is exactly why we have the highest cellular prices in the world: we complain about it, but we're not willing to vote with our feet and do without. We just hold our noses and sign on the dotted line.
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gei wrote: If they thought having middle seats empty on a plane was going to make any difference at all, then they were delusional to begin with anyway.
That was the recommendation from credible health authorities that the airlines followed until it became more convenientprofitable for them not to follow it.

Besides, "delusional" or not, that's what they were promised and what they paid for. The airlines, yet again, broke their contract with passengers without notice and without compensation. Yup the same airlines who now expect us to fly with them on a wing and a prayer (relying on vouchers whose value can change just as arbitrarily as their seat spacing.)
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The vast majority of people really aren't bothered - myself included. I've flown several times in the last few months and will happily continue.

The types complaining about the middle seats are likely the type that aren't going to fly any time soon anyway, so I think this issue is largely moot.
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B.C. wants to see evidence it's safe to fly if airlines drop in-flight distancing
British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix says he wants to see evidence that it's safe for the country's two largest airlines to drop their in-flight distancing policies during the pandemic.

Dix says he would like to hear from federal agencies to allay fears or explain why they've allowed Air Canada and WestJet to end the seat-distancing policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
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bylo wrote: The couple was promised social-distancing by means of an empty middle seat. They bought tickets based on that commitment. Then WS withdrew that commitment without notice and without compensation. In what universe is that acceptable business practice? In what universe isn't that a valid reason for the couple to complain?

If they cancel now because WS broke their end of the bargain, how likely are they to get a full refund of the money they paid? (Somewhere between diddly-squat and bupkis.)
Unless WS had a policy different from other airlines I am more familiar with, the seat blocking was announced to be temporary. If folks really want it empty they could buy a second seat. I’m not sure what ppl want airlines to do. Block seats, don’t raise fares, don’t cut routes, don’t use public money for a bailout, keep borders restricted and quarantine rules, etc.

It can’t work to meet all the impossible expectations, they are businesses after all.
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Love to comment on this topic . But slowly I'm being squeezed out of different sections of the forum .
<sig removed> by moderators . Yet no moderator told me they removed or why ?
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dolfan1980 wrote: Unless WS had a policy different from other airlines I am more familiar with, the seat blocking was announced to be temporary. If folks really want it empty they could buy a second seat. I’m not sure what ppl want airlines to do. Block seats, don’t raise fares, don’t cut routes, don’t use public money for a bailout, keep borders restricted and quarantine rules, etc.
None of which is relevant. From the article in the OP, "Antonio said she and her husband are going on a business trip they were supposed to take in March but chose to delay because of the pandemic. She said the main reason they felt comfortable booking the flight now was because WestJet said explicitly during the ticket-booking process that the middle seat would be empty."

WS promised them an empty middle seat. They bought tickets based on that "explicit" commitment. Then WS reneged. Public health continues to recommend measures like empty middle seats. WS still hasn't provided any scientific evidence why they're justified in ignoring those recommendations. The need to make profit isn't enough to risk the health of passengers and all those they come in contact with after they land.
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bylo wrote: That was the recommendation from credible health authorities that the airlines followed until it became more convenientprofitable for them not to follow it.

Besides, "delusional" or not, that's what they were promised and what they paid for. The airlines, yet again, broke their contract with passengers without notice and without compensation. Yup the same airlines who now expect us to fly with them on a wing and a prayer (relying on vouchers whose value can change just as arbitrarily as their seat spacing.)
It was not a recommendation from health authorities. It was an airlines initiative. No one was promised anything, it was said to be the way ahead. Since it was, or has been said that masks are mandatory, the separation was not necessary.
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Some people appear to have misunderstood that this middle seat thing was temporary. I haven't been following the evolution of it but when it was first announced there was a definite "up until" date on it. But this strategy had nothing to do with safety and everything to do with marketing and selling seats especially to people who thought they would have an empty middle seat for their fall vacation. They couldn't fill the seats anyway so why not turn it to their advantage and pretend to actually care about social distancing and passengers well-being!

At the and of the day when you're packing bodies into an aircraft this sort of minimal distancing probably has very little impact. It comes down to simple statistics. Fly a half empty aircraft and you'll half the chance of catching something simply because you're less likely to have an infected person on board. At the sort of densities we're talking about that extra couple of feet between heads is neither here nor there.

I'd be all for mandated distancing on all aircraft coming in and out of Canada at a higher ticket cost but please give me it in the form of more legroom rather than an empty middle seat. Oh, and at the same time we need regulations that force airlines to keep groups of travellers together regardless of whether they paid for advance seating selection or not.

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