United Airlines passenger recounts packed flight amid coronavirus

A New Jersey woman says she endured yet another United Airlines flight packed with people despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Photos taken by Mary Pearson, 76, of Long Beach Island shows passengers in every seat on Thursday’s 2:30 p.m. flight from San Juan to Houston, with no room for social distancing.

Worse, the woman who sat next to Pearson wasn’t wearing a mask, she said.

“She got on the plane with a bandanna on and as soon as the plane took off, she took it off and never put it back on,” Pearson told The Post.

Pearson said she expected the airline to ensure that every other seat was left empty, and to require passengers to wear masks.

But there was not even a mention of the virus after boarding, she said.

“I had three friends who came in — one on JetBlue, one on American, and one on Southwest — and they all had the middle seat empty,” Pearson said. “Maybe I should have checked with United beforehand, but it was really upsetting getting on the plane to see what was happening.”

“It was really frightening,” she added. “I wasn’t very excited to get on a plan to begin with.”

United’s website says that the airline “cannot guarantee that all customers will be seated next to an unoccupied seat,” but that “based on historically low travel demand and the implementation of our various social distancing measures that is the likely outcome.”

Mary Pearson

Pearson said she filed a complaint with the airline, but never heard back.

“It leaves me feeling very unsafe about the next few weeks,” she said. “My husband and I are not young, 76 and 83.”

United Airlines didn’t comment on Pearson’s specific experience, but told The Post that, beginning next week, it would allow customers on flights expected to be packed the option of re-booking or receive a travel credit.

Through June 30, the airline said it will contact travelers about 24 hours before their departure time so they can decide whether to change their plans before they get to the airport. The option will also be available at the gate, if more than 70 percent of passengers have checked in.

The airline also claims that it requires passengers and crew to wear masks on board, despite images from Pearson showing bare-faced travelers.

Pearson’s account comes after a San Francisco doctor returning from volunteering at a New York City hospital to help fight the virus said he was also forced to endure a packed flight on United.

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