British Airways have been slammed by passengers for an apparent lack of social distancing measures on board recent flights provided by the airline. One passenger described the experience as “being packed like sardines in a can”.
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A passenger flying on flight BA9115, which is reported as being from Amritsar India to London Heathrow, issued a tweet showing the inside of the cabin where passengers sat as they usually would, without the implementation of any apparent social distancing measures.
The tweet reads: “200+ crammed like sardines, whilst 70+ seats were EMPTY up front on flight #BA9115c.
“So much for #SocialDistancing.
“Your negligence is fuelling the #coronavirus #pandemic.”
A second passenger directed a tweet at the government, suggesting they were not doing enough to ensure social distancing measures were being adhered to on repatriation flights.
“What is the point of #repatriation flights if passengers are being packed like sardines in a can?” the Twitter user asked.
“Shameful that the government is insisting on #SocialDistancing and not practicing the same while “rescuing” their people from other countries.”
The government is currently adding people to stay two metres apart from anyone who is not a member of their household in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
British Airways spoke to Express.co.uk and said they were working in line with the recommended guidelines.
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A BA spokesperson said: “Like other forms of transport we are keeping vital links open – repatriating customers and ensuring key supplies like medicines and food are flown in.
“We continue to follow all the guidance from the UK Government and global health authorities, including Public Health England and the World Health Organisation.
“We have taken several steps to reduce contact between customers and crew, and personal protective equipment is available to them.”
The airline has already put in place a number of protective measures to minimise the amount of contact onboard.
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These include changes to the standard food service on both short and long-haul flights.
BA is also running a very limited number of commercial flights, with the majority of them serving those who have an essential need to travel.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise Britons to avoid all but essential travel for an “indefinite” period of time.
However, BA is not the only airline that has come under fire for a lack of social distancing measures.
According to the Daily Mail, a passenger on a government repatriation flight from Turkey to Stansted on Tuesday made similar claims.
Gemma Bain, who was flying with Pegasus Airlines, said that passengers were packed onboard.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said: “The crew had full protective kits on but we had nothing. It was really worrying.
“This was an emergency rescue flight but it seemed to pay no regard to Government guidelines.”
While the concept of keeping the middle seat empty has been floated by some air industry insiders, others have said it is an unnecessary measure which will do more damage than good.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary told BBC News: “This notion of keeping empty middle seats, it doesn’t achieve any social distancing,” he said.
“The aisle and the window seat are two and a half feet away from each other, they are not two metres.“There is no way you can have social distancing in an aluminium tube, whether it’s an airline or it’s the London Underground or it’s a train.”
Instead, he suggested health checks prior to boarding were the key in ensuring passenger and crew safety.
“I think what we will have to do though when we do return is temperature checks of people entering terminals and train stations, and everybody with a temperature of over 38 degrees will be refused entry,” he said.
“And onboard we will have face coverings or face masks for passengers and cabin crew.”
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