Outrage Over Photos Showing Packed Passengers on American Airlines Flight

Packed plane
Angie Wong

The woman who took the photos said that staff told her the airline was running "business as usual."

Viral photos showing a packed airplane filled with some passengers not wearing masks are causing outrage for appearing to ignore social distancing measures used to limit the spread of the coronavirus

Passenger Angie Wong told Inside Edition she took the image earlier this week on an American Airlines flight from Miami to New York.

"We were all sat shoulder to shoulder, touching each other, just basically on top of each other," Wong told Inside Edition.

Wong said she brought up concerns about social distancing at the gate before she boarded the flight, but she said she was told by staff that they were operating "business as usual under the same old policy" and that "if they sell 150 seats they're going to fly 150 people."

When she got on the plane, Wong said she was shocked. "I immediately thought, 'Do I want to get off this plane? Because I don't know if I want to subject myself to that. But when you get on and see the entire row is full of people it's too little too late at that time," she said.

Mid-flight, the captain came on and apologized for the cramped conditions the passengers were flying in, according to Wong.

In a statement, American Airlines told Inside Edition, "The safety of our customers and team members remains our top priority. We are in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials and will continue to coordinate with them on any required health and safety related measures. In response to our employees’ concerns about COVID-19, we have expanded our cleaning procedures to ensure high-touch areas are cleaned more frequently and have introduced procedures to ensure employees maintain proper distance from others and follow all CDC recommendations for personal hygiene. We allow all employees to wear gloves or masks if they wish, and in the wake of recently-updated CDC guidelines, are working to provide masks to all front-line employees as quickly as we can obtain supplies without taking any actions that would deprive such necessary supplies from first responders and health care providers."

The airline also said it blocks 50% of middle seats and reassigns seats to create more space between customers when possible.