Most airlines in North America, including Air Canada, American, United and Spirit will start booking flights to full capacity starting in July. Demand for flights as countries are opening back up to international tourists is so high that social distancing on planes is no longer feasible. Other airlines in Europe such as Lufthansa and KLM have already scraped social distancing a month ago.
Previously these airlines had blocked the sale of seats adjacent to the one you booked, giving you more arm room, privacy and less of a chance to get sneezed on by another passenger. Depending on your perspective this is either a good thing or a bad thing. Prices will of course be dropping as they can now cover the cost of the flight with full capacity. On the other hand, no one likes a crowded plane, especially when a nasty virus is going around.
The International International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for a stop to social distancing rules on airplanes, proposing instead other safety measures. There are mandatory temperature checks before boarding, which is debatable how effective that is because up to 80% of people with the virus are asymptomatic according to some studies.
Other enhanced safety measures are already in place at most airports such as sanitization, required face masks, airport fogging and HEPA filters on airplanes (which most airplanes have had for years already). Some experts suggest that “Once it’s in the cabin, it’s difficult to stop air moving around,” said Tim Sly, an epidemiologist at Ryerson University’s School of Public Health, which suggests that social distancing on an airplane is really pointless as the virus will be circulated and spread easily in an enclosed space anyway.
If you’re really desperate to not get sick, try booking the entire row to yourself, or just simply don’t travel at all.