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Airlines announce they will begin booking flights at full capacity as COVID cases skyrocket

By Laura Brown
June 30, 2020
Masks on a plane
Soon, you'll be able to book the middle seat again on United and American Airlines.

American Airlines and United Airlines have announced that beginning July 1, they will begin to book flights at full capacity. The news comes amid skyrocketing case numbers of COVID-19 in the United States.

Both United and American Airlines said they would continue to provide lenient cancellation and rebooking policies, and will alert flyers prior to boarding if their flight is above capacity.

Why it matters

At the beginning of the pandemic, airlines instilled stricter limits on the capacity of planes to encourage social distancing. The significant decline in demand for flights and loosening cancellation policies meant there were plenty of empty seats to accommodate stricter social distancing requirements.

Air travel is down 80% compared to this time last year, and all major US carriers have cancelled around 50% of their flight schedules to accommodate the decrease in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Airline executives argue that in order to survive, airlines need to begin booking flights at a higher capacity.

What to know about COVID-19

The novel coronavirus is a worsening pandemic in the United States. It is a new disease to humans, and therefore there is a significant amount of information about it that we still don't know. Scientists believe the primary mode of transmission for COVID-19 is through air droplets spread from person to person.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask.

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These are the US states that require or recommend travelers to quarantine

Lockdown de-escalation efforts are well underway across the US and inter-state travel has more or less resumed as health officials lift quarantine directives in most places. But not every state is throwing its doors wide open to travelers this summer; some, like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, are asking arrivals to quarantine upon arrival and, in the case of Alaska, to undergo health screening. If you are planning to travel inter-state for a vacation or short trip, it's best to check your destination's travel advisories before packing your bags as the situation is constantly changing but for now here's a state-by-state breakdown of places across the US which still require or recommend quarantine. AlaskaTravelers arriving from another state or country must complete a traveler declaration form on arrival; present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours or receive a test upon arrival and self-isolate while awaiting results. Travelers can only use roads or maritime highways and avoid remote areas. ArkansasTravelers returning from Connecticut, New Jersey, New Orleans, New York or any international destination must self-isolate for 14 days. ConnecticutAnyone arriving from a state with a positive coronavirus test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average, must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. This includes returning citizens. Arrivals from the tri-state area are required to self-isolate upon arriving in Florida ©Sean Pavone/ShutterstockFloridaTravelers arriving from Connecticut, New Jersey or New York must self-isolate for 14 days. HawaiiAll travelers arriving into Hawaii, including residents, from out-of-state must self-quarantine for 14 days. The rule is in place until 31 July. Residents traveling between any of the islands do not have to quarantine but they are required to have their temperature screened at the airport and complete a health and travel form. KansasAnyone arriving from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona or Maryland must self-isolate for 14 days, as should those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case MaineAll arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days or have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, except for those traveling from New Hampshire or Vermont. Massachusetts requires out-of-state travelers to self-isolate ©Getty Images/iStockphotoNew YorkSimilar to Connecticut, anyone arriving from a state with a positive coronavirus test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a state with a 10% or higher rate over a seven-day rolling average, must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. This includes returning citizens. Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday (24 June) those states currently include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, Utah and Texas. The list of states on the quarantine list will be updated on a daily basis as the infection rate changes. New JerseyNew Jersey's quarantine policy is in line with New York and Connecticut's: anyone arriving from a state with a positive coronavirus test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or a state with a 10% or higher rate over a seven-day rolling average, must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. "Unfortunately many states continue to have high transmission rates. We are proud to work with our partners in New York and Connecticut on a joint incoming travel advisory to ensure continued progress against this virus and to keep residents of the tri-state area safe," Governor Phil Murphy said. MassachusettsAll arrivals entering the state "by any mode of transportation for any reason" is required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival, and asked not to travel if they display coronavirus symptoms. NebraskaArrivals returning from international destinations must self-isolate for 14 days. New MexicoAnyone who arrives in New Mexico from the state's airports must self-isolate for 14 days, except for airline crew and essential workers. Rhode IslandAnyone returning from an international destination must self-isolate for 14 days. This article originally ran on our sister site, Lonely Planet.

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The European Union has banned US travelers due to COVID-19 concerns

UPDATE: On June 30, European officials announced an official travel ban on travelers from the US entering Europe. The ban prevents any Americans from entering Europe because of the USA's failures in controlling the spread of COVID-19 within its own borders. Other countries on the list include Brazil and Russia. Incoming travel from the rest of the world has been banned in Europe since mid-March. As the EU plans to reopen to travelers in July, new rules are being discussed and put in place. The list is expected to be finalized and announced early next week. Americans already seem to be adjusting to the new reality that all travel for 2020 will be domestic. RV sales for domestic road trips are at an all time high, and road trips are the hottest travel idea of the year. We will update this post as more information develops.

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Amtrak is stopping daily service to hundreds of stations across the US

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News

United Airlines wants to know your health history before you can fly

United is one of the first major US airlines to introduce such measures in the wake of the pandemic. The "health self-assessment" is now part of United's check-in process and consists of a questionnaire called the 'Ready-to-Fly' checklist. All criteria must be met before the passenger can continue successfully check in, otherwise they will have to reschedule their flight. United Airlines ✔@united The next time you check in for a flight you will see a "Ready-to-fly" checklist. Based on recommendations from @ClevelandClinic, the self-assessment is one of many ways our CleanPlus program is prioritizing health and safety during travel. http://united.com/CleanPlus The Ready-to-Fly checklist includes: - A reminder you must wear a face mask while on board- A list of common COVID-19 symptoms, and a declaration that you have not experienced them in the last 14 days- You have not been denied boarding by another airline due to a medical screening in the last 14 days- You have not had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days The checklist was based on recommendations from the Cleveland Clinic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). It can be done online or at a check-in desk at the airport with a United Airlines agent. Frontier Airlines also requires a similar health acknowledgement from passengers, as well as temperature checks before boarding and the mandatory use of face coverings on flights. The CDC says that travel in general increases the spread of COVID-19 because social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and because "travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces." This article originally appeared on our sister site, Lonely Planet.

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