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Some airlines increase capacity ahead of holiday weekend despite surge in US coronavirus cases


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — For months some airlines have scaled back capacity on flights, choosing not to fill certain seats to give passengers space to social distance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite a surge in infections in the U.S., some airlines are increasing their capacity.

This all comes just ahead of the July 4th holiday, where there’s certainly an uptick in travel.

KRON4’s Gayle Ong caught a flight to give a sense of how the different the experience could be.

Just one day ago, this is what was encountered boarding a United Airlines flight from Knoxville, Tennessee to Washington D.C.

Passengers spaced out as much as they could be, the norm in the age of COVID-19.

All passengers receive a wipe as soon as they board the plane and face masks are required.

Snacks and bottled water served in a plastic bag with an alcohol wipe.

These half empty flights a big hit to the bottom line of the airline industry. But now airlines like American, Spirit and United won’t be blocking certain seats anymore and will fill their planes to capacity.

We spoke to travelers at SFO:

“Yeah, that’s definitely a cause of concern.”

“Not concerned.”

Airports have already seen a surge in travelers, SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel says things are starting to pick up.

“Right now we’re averaging about 10,000 people a day going through our security checkpoints, which is definitely up from what we saw in April and May,” Yakel said.

But it depends where you travel.

Video shows an empty Boston Logan International Airport three weeks ago on June 10.

But Chicago O’hare on that same day was a different story.

Fast forward to Saturday, June 27 — the crowds came in waves when flights arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport.

At SFO, there were no crowds Wednesday morning – a rare sight ahead of the July 4th holiday travel season.

People did get on board get up without their masks on but the flight attendant told them to put their masks back on. If anyone is concerned their United Airlines flight is full, the can change their flight for free but there’s fewer flights to get on.

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