On Friday he followed up: “A lot of folks reacted to my tweet yesterday about the irresponsible sale of middle seats on planes saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in the Senate did something about it?’ They’re right.”
“I will introduce a bill to ban the sale of middle seats through this pandemic. And I’ll work with colleagues to include it in a package of airline accountability reforms they are crafting,” he tweeted.
American Airlines said in a statement Friday, “We are unwavering in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our customers and team members. We have multiple layers of protection in place for those who fly with us, including required face coverings, enhanced cleaning procedures, and a pre-flight COVID-19 symptom checklist — and we’re providing additional flexibility for customers to change their travel plans, as well.”
It added, “We know our customers are placing their trust in us to make every aspect of their journey safe, and we are committed to doing just that.”
Delta Air Lines, Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, said they would continue to limit seating to enable some social distancing.
United Airlines said Wednesday it does not believe that simply leaving middle seats empty will protect passengers from the coronavirus.
“When it comes to blocking middle seats, that’s a PR strategy, that’s not a safety strategy,” Josh Earnest, the airline’s top spokesman, told reporters.
But Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said this week that “there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines” when the air carrier announced it would stop limiting seat sales.
Speaking at a Covid-19-related Senate committee hearing on Tuesday, Redfield said safety on airplanes and mass transportation is a “critical area.”
“I can tell you that when they announced that the other day, obviously there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines,” Redfield said. “I can say this is under critical review right now by us at CDC. We don’t think it’s the right message.”
CNN Health’s Amanda Watts, Pete Muntean, Holly Yan, Melissa Mahtani, Harmeet Kaur and Scottie Andrew contributed to this report.