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United Airlines - Update on social distancing initiatives
For those traveling now and in the near future, we have implemented temporary changes to promote social distancing in the air and on the ground. Today we’d like to provide clarification and additional actions we’re taking on seat assignments.
When you book
We have adjusted our seat selection systems to avoid where possible seating customers next to each other, except when traveling together. Where possible, we're also alternating window and aisle seats when seats are in pairs. While we cannot guarantee that all customers will be seated next to an unoccupied seat, based on this historically low travel demand and the implementation of these measures, that is the likely outcome.
When you travel
Travel demand has decreased dramatically and even though we have reduced our schedule by 90%, the vast majority of our flights (85%) are less than half full. However, because our schedule is so reduced (we're only operating a single flight a day in some destinations), there are a small number of flights where our customers are finding planes fuller than they expect.
Starting next week and continuing through June 30, we'll allow customers on flights that are expected to be closer to full capacity to choose to rebook on a different flight or receive a travel credit. We'll do our best to contact them about 24 hours before their departure time so they can decide whether to adjust their plans before they arrive at the airport – and we'll provide this option at the gate, if more than 70% of customers have checked in. Customers who have additional questions may contact us for reseating options.
Our Network Planning and Operations teams will also continually evaluate opportunities for additional capacity on routes where we’re seeing routinely higher load factors and specific flights with high projected loads.
Other ways we’re promoting social distancing during travel include:
- Boarding fewer customers at a time to allow for more distance during the boarding process. Following pre-boarding (a process that will not change), we will board back-to-front by rows, but will space out customers to minimize crowding in the gate area and on the jet bridge.
- Implementing a temporary front-to-back deplaning process as customers exit the aircraft.
- Processing Complimentary Premier Upgrades at the departure gate in priority order.
- Rolling out touchless kiosks - at select airports, you can now check in to your United flight without touching a screen, even if you're checking bags. Click here to learn more.
- Providing individually wrapped hand sanitizer wipes to our customers as they board the aircraft.