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What airlines are doing to protect you against COVID-19

Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) has ramped up its protections for passengers to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. There are plexiglass shields at ticketing counters and stations allowing you to self-tag your luggage for flights.

But, as far as actually getting onto the plane, many airlines are requiring masks before boarding. And many passengers are in favor of the rules, like Samantha Brusic.

“Being right next to somebody not even 12 inches apart, I’m going to catch some of their breath if they do not have a mask on,” Brusic said.

All of this in an effort to make people feel comfortable traveling again.

However, Brusic wants to make sure that the regulations by airlines are being followed by passengers and are actually being enforced.  “If you’re going to have a guideline make sure you follow it and be strict,” she said.

Brusic took a flight from Chicago to Fort Myers recently and filed a complaint with Spirit Airlines after seeing full flights without social distancing and mask-wearing not being enforced. The airline says it plans to investigate and get back to her within 60 days.

Spirit does not have a policy prohibiting the sale of middle seats and in addition to that – Spirit, JetBlue, Delta and Southwest – none of them have a capacity limit for flights.

Tom Esterley said he’s flown multiple times during the pandemic, and he would definitely do it again, “It was fine they try and practice social distancing. They request masks to be worn … I think, if you’re mindful and do the right things, it’s safe to travel in my opinion.”

But Pamella Seay, a professor of law and security in airports at FGCU wants people to figure out what is most important to consumers, safety or value? She said, “There are ways you can protect yourself and still be able to fly but certainly it’s up to the consumer. What’s more important? Price or personal safety and security?”

Here’s the full list of what each airline is offering its passengers:

Allegiant

Mask policy: Allegiant recommends but does not require customers to wear face masks. The airline says they are beginning to provide “health and safety kits” for customers. Each kit includes a single-use face mask, disposable gloves (non-latex) and two sanitizing wipes, though every flight might not have them yet.

Seating capacity: Customers are encouraged not to book the middle seat unless it’s to ensure families can sit together. Customers with concerns about being on a flight that cannot accommodate social distancing can request to be notified if a booked flight exceeds 65% capacity. Notifications include a list of flexible options available.

American

Mask policy: All passengers are required to wear face coverings on board, except “very young children.” Those who do not comply will not be allowed to fly and could be barred from future travel. Limited masks may be available if you do not have one but they are not guaranteed.

Seating capacity: American does not enforce a capacity on its flights. However, once on the flight, passengers can request to move if they are in a crowded row. Additionally, American says it will notify customers if they are on a full flight so they can request another flight at no additional charge.

Delta

Mask policy: Passengers are required to wear face coverings on board, except for young children. You are required to bring your own mask, but masks are available if needed at check-in and boarding gates.

Seating capacity: Of all the airlines operating out of RSW, Delta has the most generous blocked seating arrangements. Middle seats are blocked off on larger aircrafts and some aisle seats are blocked off on smaller aircrafts. This will be the case through September 30, 2020. Flights are capped at 50% in first class and 60% for main cabins. International flights are capped at 75% capacity. On some flights, Delta is also loading passengers back to front in order to limit contact.

Frontier

Mask Policy: All passengers are required to wear face coverings, including at ticket counters and gate areas.

Seating capacity: There is no guarantee that the middle seat will be empty or that flights run at a reduced capacity.

Temperature checks: Frontier is the only airline at RSW that will screen passengers and crew members prior to boarding flights. They are using a touchless thermometer. “100.4 degrees or higher will not be allowed to fly, including crew members.”

Jet Blue

Mask Policy: All customers are required to wear face masks throughout the flight, including during check-in, boarding and deplaning.

Seating capacity: Middle seats are blocked from purchase on larger aircraft, and most aisle seats are blocked from purchase on smaller aircraft. Jet Blue also says crew members are reviewing seat assignments to help ensure as much personal space as possible. As of now, this will be the case through July 31st.

Southwest

Mask policy: Passengers are required to wear a face-covering for boarding and throughout the flight. You are encouraged to bring your own but will be provided if needed.

Seating capacity: Southwest is limiting the number of tickets sold on flights to allow for social distancing through September 30, 2020. The goal is to block middle seats, but families traveling together may sit in the middle row. Southwest has an “open seating policy” meaning you are given a number in line and you choose your seat on the plane.

Spirit

Mask policy: Travelers are required to wear face coverings when flying. Masks will not be provided.

Seating capacity: Spirit is not limiting capacity or blocking seats on flights. The airline says some flights will be more full than others

Suncountry Airlines

Mask policy: Customers are required to wear face masks during the flight.

Seating capacity: There is no limit on capacity or blocking seats on flights.

United

Mask policy: Passengers are required to wear a face-covering on board. If you forget yours, one will be provided. The airline says that passengers who do not comply will be placed on an “internal travel restriction list” to bar them from future travel on United flights.

Seating capacity: There is no capacity for flights or policy to block middle seats. However, for regularly scheduled flights that are expected to be fairly full, United says they will let you change your flight with no change fee or receive a travel credit for your trip. They are also boarding fewer customers at a time and boarding back to front by rows after pre-boarding.

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