American Airlines will start booking flights at full capacity this week, no longer blocking off some middle seats to promote social distancing on its planes.
The airline will start selling every seat beginning July 1, after operating a plane’s capacity at about 85% since April.
The decision has incurred some criticism as the number of confirmed new COVID-19 infections in the U.S. hit an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
American said that it will continue to notify customers if their flight is expected to be full and let them change flights at no extra cost.
The carrier joins United Airlines and Spirit Airlines in booking flights to capacity, instead relying on enhanced cleaning measures. United CEO Scott Kirby has said social distancing is impossible on planes anyway; that even with empty middle seats, people are less than six feet away from each other.
Delta will continue capping seats at about 60% of capacity, and Southwest at about 67%, both through Sept. 30. JetBlue says it will leave middle seats empty through July 31 unless the person is traveling with a passenger in an adjoining seat.
American, like other U.S. airlines, already requires customers to wear a face covering while on board aircraft, and said it will deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a mask.