U.S. CDC Takes On American Airlines: Government Health Agency Blows It Again

The CDC advised against the general public wearing face masks to limit the spread of COVID-19, a lie designed to buy time for the government and health care providers to stockpile limited supplies. They shipped defective tests – the only ones allowed to the used – delaying understanding of spread of the virus in the U.S. by weeks. And they completely failed in implementing the China travel ban allowing passengers with SARS-COV-2 to enter the U.S. unchecked.

If you want to understand why people now refuse to wear masks, despite substantial research showing the benefit and very little downside, it’s simple: our leadership has failed us, hasn’t told us the truth, and people do not trust what they’re told.

Now CDC Director Robert Redfield has something to say about American Airlines. He thinks it’s horrible that American will sell middle seats on planes. As he explained in response to a question by Senator Bernie Sanders,

Redfield told members of Congress that the policy is currently under “critical review” at the agency as he said it doesn’t send the right message to Americans amid a pandemic.

“Obviously, when they announced that the other day, there was substantial disappointment with American Airlines,” he told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee during a hearing on U.S. efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic. “We don’t think it sends the right message.”

Redfield called out American, and said they are ‘under review’ because of an announcement made on Friday that they will no longer limit capacity on planes selling most of their seats. However, he appears not to realize that,

  • American Airlines wasn’t blocking all middle seats before – they had a soft cap of 85% load factor on their flights. If there’s a concern now, where was the CDC when American was selling half of middle seats for months?

  • While Delta, Southwest, and JetBlue have more stringent limits, American Airlines joins other carriers that lack any limits at all. Indeed their new policy largely mirrors what United Airlines has already had in place. Why is Redfield just now concerned about American?

  • Planes haven’t been identified as a place where the virus has spread. The CDC itself says on its website that “Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.” However they add “social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others (within 6 feet), sometimes for hours.” That’s the official guidance, but the CDC Director may not be aware of it?

  • Blocked middle seats provided only 18 inches of spacing to the side of a passenger anyway.

CDC Director Refield says that failing to block middle seats sends the wrong message not that there’s any materially different level of risk. We’d all like more space. And anyone who wants an empty middle seat can buy one. I really don’t want anyone sitting close to me, so if I were traveling I’d definitely consider doing that.

But isn’t the most concerning thing here that we’re six months into this crisis and the U.S. CDC is just now reviewing protocols for limiting spread of the virus during air travel? Isn’t that the real scandal?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I went to high school with a girl who, now in her 30s, is still a slut who loves nightclubs, raves, drinking, and drugs. Wanna know where her daddy works? CDC.

  2. Is there anyone in all of DC management that has flown AA coach?
    I doubt the CDC even knows what it was like on AA flights (no social distancing even if every other row).
    Think of an airplane as an incubator for a cesspool of germs, viruses and toxic fumes and you too will stop flying. FC breathes the same scum.
    Buy a SCUBA rebreather- they start at about $4500 but you’ll also need 2 seats together unless you are a 4′ twiggy.

  3. A) It’s still a government agency who work on that sort of speed. B) Only a small sample of people have and will be flying versus any other number of daily activity a broader demographic would participate in.

  4. The problem is that CDC does not know the damn thing what kind of interaction would cause Covid-19 infection. Unfortunately, it is not that simple and blocking and removing the middle seat from the aircraft is unlikely to stop Covid-19. Getting an infected person from point A to point B is likely to be the main effect of air travel on pandemic. Are you still asked by TSA to take the shoes off when going through security? Do they ever clean that floor? Sorry, I was doing preCheck for too many years…

  5. (1) The CDC got defunded and had to shut down their Wuhan office (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-cdc-exclusiv/exclusive-u-s-slashed-cdc-staff-inside-china-prior-to-coronavirus-outbreak-idUSKBN21C3N5)
    (2) The CDC and was prevented by politicians from implementing their National Pandemic Strategy (which, if you read it, is as good as the best) https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/national-strategy/index.html

    Bot the people there are not idiots. I believe them over the narcissistic egocentric guys who’ve been pillaging AA for their personal profit over the last few years.

    Are you in on the spoils?

  6. Where are we with discussions between the airlines and government to purchase those middle seats for later use by US government employees?

  7. If you’re counting on the government or corporations to look out for your safety and well being while Donald “the traitor” Dump is in charge you must be out of your ever loving mind. Right now air travel is Russian Roulette with your very existence. Hard pass.

  8. @Gary travel bans work or they don’t? I thought you were of the opinion they don’t. Actually who would have been responsible for implementing testing at the airports anyway? I was never really clear on that.

    @Jason guilt by association so logically poor but still a fun comment, thank you.

    @Alex_77W nonsense of course they do. But Redfield in addition to being a doctor is a religious nutbag political hack so no surprises he hasn’t a clue.

  9. There is info how a person is considered covid positive in Collin County. TX that should be disturbing. Look for on banned.video [Breaking: States Ordered To Fraudulently Inflate COVID-19 Cases 15 Times Actual Rate] https://banned.video/watch?id=5efab695672706002f367a0a . A person that is “covid positive”” can affect at least 16 other persons where no one are actually tested to be covid positive.from apparently being in vicinity of a “covid Positive person”. Each of the non tested “probable covid positive” people can affect at least another 16 people which would be considered “positive covid”. Is this the “second wave” model being used across America? Long version of Collin County, TX hearing is https://collincountytx.new.swagit.com/videos/62477 .

  10. @Belinda – to work a travel ban needs to be implemented when the virus is actually widespread in the community, and it has to be implemented effectively. the ban on china travel was blown by the CDC. the ban on europe travel came too late to matter. there is no longer a point in either.

  11. When you write “our leadership has failed us, hasn’t told us the truth” why not be more specific and say T R U M P, assisted by Republicans. Democrats haven’t failed us. Know nothing Trump and enabling Republicans have failed us, big time.

  12. My guess is that he had never looked in depth at the issues surrounding airlines, and simply took what Sanders fed him and commented on that. His reply seemed to be based on general public impression, not on any specific scientific data pertinent to flight.I grant that the CDC has a million things to worry about, and nobody is perfect, but there seems to be a much greater than you’d want to see penchant for getting things wrong, sending the wrong messages and reversing itself. Of course, compared to the White House, the CDC has been incredibly masterful.

  13. @Andrew – our bureaucracy has failed us. That’s not a defense of the Administration, but it’s likely to have happened regardless of Administration.

  14. Gary I agree you. . .truely time to find middle of the road, senseable people to run our country who can work together. The far left (AOC, Pelosi and Schummer ) and far right (Trump and Co) all need to go. Can we move up the election while we have a country left to save!

    That being said, the blocked middle seat if more a marketing scheme then science. Most planes are 50% full, only some are more then that, so in most cases you are fine. If the plane is full, AA is giving you the chance to change and the planes are clean, the masks work (and are being enforced) so I am less concerned about flying than eating out or going to the gym.

  15. @sunviking – calling Pelosi and Schumer “far left” is ignorant and no reflection of reality

    I’m more center-left than AOC, but she has some very valid ideas and is helping to pull (2021 President) Biden a bit further to the left, which is a good thing

  16. What is going on with all the Boarding Area bloggers posting incessantly about this? Is there an editorial push? If you are afraid to travel because you think someone could be sitting next to you then you definitely should not travel. What’s the point of going somewhere when you’ve lost your mind already? Stay home and try to find peace with your inner demons.

  17. Jason, instead of irrelevant info about this girl’s father, can you tell me where I can find her? Thanks in advance.

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