Amid the pandemic, American Airlines capped the number of people per flight to encourage social distancing among passengers on board. In April, American left middle seats open and limited bookings to about 85 percent of the plane's capacity. However, American just announced that it will be ditching this effort and will soon fly full planes so long as there's demand for seats.
Starting Wednesday, July 1, American will begin booking flights to full capacity. To protect passengers and crew, the airline will require that flyers certify that they have been free of any coronavirus symptoms for the previous two weeks. Flyers will be able to certify that they are free of the virus at either self-service machines at airports or when they check in online.
American will notify travelers and even allow them to move to flights with more empty seats, at no cost to the flyer, whenever available. Travelers seated next to a stranger will also be able to change seats in their cabin, if there are available seats and no restrictions taking into account aircraft balance or weight.
In order to help stem the spread of the virus, airlines have introduced extensive cleaning procedures everywhere from the gate areas, ticketing areas and, of course, on the aircraft itself. Airlines are also requiring that passengers use face masks and have even kicked off flyers who refuse to use one.
With the move to fill up planes, American will join United. However, currently, Southwest, Delta and JetBlue are not planning to fly planes at full capacity just yet. Delta is aiming to keep its planes at roughly 60 percent capacity, while Southwest is aiming to keep its flights about 67 percent full.