Chrissy Teigen Slams American Airlines for Filling Flights to Capacity amid Coronavirus Pandemic
Starting July 1, American Airlines began allowing full capacity on flights
On Friday, the Cravings cookbook author called out the airline company on Twitter in response to seeing Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley's picture of his packed American Airlines flight.
Merkley captured a selfie of the back half of the airline cabin, revealing that almost every seat on the flight had been filled. While everyone in the picture appeared to be wearing masks, including Merkley, the politician criticized the lack of social distancing.
"@Americanair: how many Americans will die bc you fill middle seats, w/ your customers shoulder to shoulder, hour after hour. This is incredibly irresponsible," Merkley tweeted at the airline.
"People eat & drink on planes & must take off masks to do so. No way you aren't facilitating spread of COVID infections," Merkley also asserted in his tweet.
Teigen, 34, reposted Merkley's complaint on Twitter, writing, "Not to be dramatic but American Airlines only cares about money and doesn't care if you get sick and die."
Teigen's condemnation of American Airlines comes just two days after the company began allowing full capacity on its flights after having it capped at 85 percent since April.
"We are unwavering in our commitment to the safety and well-being of our customers and team members," a spokesperson for American Airlines told PEOPLE this week. "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. 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."
The carrier will also continue to notify customers and allow them to move to more open flights when available, without incurring a change fee.
United Airlines is also lifting limitations on seating capacaity on their flights this month.
A rep for United told PEOPLE that "for regularly scheduled flights that we expect to be fairly full" they will also "continue to reach out to customers about 24 hours prior to departure to notify them that their flight might be more full than expected and allow them to choose to rebook on a different flight or receive a travel credit."
Meanwhile, other airlines such as Delta and Southwest have chosen to extend their limited seating to allow for better social distancing, Travel and Leisure reported.
Both the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) virologist Dr. Robert Redfield and White House Coronavirus Task Force immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, have criticized American and United for their decision as numerous places around the country continue to see surges in new coronavirus cases.
Redfield said it was a "substantial disappointment" to learn of American's decision to fully book flights. “I can say this is under critical review by us at CDC. We don’t think it’s the right message,” Redfield added, according to the New York Post.
Fauci called the decision "something that is of concern."
"I’m not sure what went into that decision making,” he told a Senate panel, according to the outlet. "I think in the confines of an airplane that becomes even more problematic."
As of July 4, there are over 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and 129,408 confirmed deaths, according to data from the New York Times.
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