Memorial Day weekend is rapidly approaching, and for the first time in 20 years, the American Automobile Association did not release Memorial Day travel projections.
Last year, the AAA estimated that 43 million Americans traveled for the annual holiday weekend — the second highest travel volume on record according to the organization. The approximation included 3.25 million people traveling by air.
The AAA tweeted recently, “The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to significantly suppress travel over the Memorial Day weekend.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to significantly suppress travel over the Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start of the summer travel season – but there are indications that people have begun planning for future trips. #AAA #Travel https://t.co/ZVqgNK2KV2 pic.twitter.com/Pr0CCstEjj— AAA Travel (@AAA_Travel) May 14, 2020
For Americans still considering flying, the failure of major airlines to enforce safe social distancing guidelines could be reason for pause.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention repeatedly has maintained that keeping at least 6 feet of physical distance is essential to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Airlines such as American, United, Delta and Southwest have yet to implement such precautions on their flights.
While all four airlines have mandated that customers and crew members must wear face coverings, none have required 6 feet of distance between passengers.
American Airlines announced it would make more standard seats available and restrict access to some seats “when possible” to allow more space.
United Airlines has similarly stated it would “avoid where possible seating customers next to each other,” and it provides an option for customers to reschedule flights expected to reach full capacity.
On the other hand, Delta and Southwest Airlines both have specified they would block middle seats, with Delta reducing its total number of passengers per flight to between 50% and 60% capacity, depending on the aircraft type.
Despite not meeting the 6 feet of physical distance guidelines, the four major airlines have assured customers the planes are equipped with high-efficiency filters (HEPA) to circulate the air and the usage of electrostatic spraying to sanitize aircrafts.
With some airlines, like United, reducing their flight schedules by 90% because of coronavirus fears, airline industry heads say they see the business struggling for the next few years.