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American removes capacity caps, increases health safety measures

June 26, 2020
3 min read
American removes capacity caps, increases health safety measures
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American Airlines will begin fully booking its flights again as demand allows starting next month.

The carrier has already come under criticism for flying relatively full flights during the coronavirus pandemic, but is moving ahead with plans to sell all available seats on every flight as of July 1. That brings it in line with United Airlines, which was not observing any capacity caps. Delta, Alaska, JetBlue and Southwest are among carriers that continue to limit the number of passengers on every flight, at least for now.

American said it will continue allowing passengers to move to less-crowded flights for no fee when such options are available, and that it will alert passengers when their flights are full.

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American is lifting the capacity caps in conjunction with some newly-announced health safety measures, including a travel health advisory panel and a pre-departure symptom questionnaire.

The panel is a partnership with Vanderbilt University, and its members will advise the airline on public health best-practices, including the most effective cleaning procedures.

Related: American Airlines pilots union wants the government to buy middle seats.

Since the start of the pandemic, airlines across the board have updated and emphasized the rigor of their cleaning routines. Many carriers have put out detailed graphics or videos to show how aircraft are disinfected between every flight, and have provided information about onboard air filtration systems in an effort to reassure passengers that the risk of onboard infection is low.

American's cleaning procedures include hand-cleaning seat buckles, seats, tray tables and other surfaces, and applying an electrostatic spray inside the aircraft every seven days, which the airline said kills 99.9999% of viruses and bacteria within 10 minutes.

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Related: American tries to avoid the ‘old airline playbook’ on furloughs even as it shrinks.

Beginning June 30, passengers on American will also be asked to certify during check-in that they have been COVID-19 symptom-free for at least 14 days. Online and airport kiosk check-in interfaces will include a symptom checklist.

Related: Airlines are increasingly requiring health checks before flying. Alaska is the latest.

“Our customers trust us to make every aspect of their journey safe. We won’t let them down,” Alison Taylor, American’s chief customer officer said in a statement. “We will continue to refine and update our practices based on the latest information from health authorities and our own Travel Health Advisory Panel.”

The airline will continue requiring passengers to wear masks throughout their flights, and American said it will restrict travel privileges for passengers who refuse to comply.

Review: American Airlines Flagship First class from Dallas to Hong Kong on the 777-300ER.

Featured image by AFP via Getty Images

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Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023