American Airlines forced passengers to sit next to each other even though their flight was virtually empty, according to a report by Mother Jones.
The incident took place on a flight on March 24, which had only 11 passengers, all in basic economy, according to the outlet, citing an unnamed flight attendant.
Although there were plenty of seats, none were moved because "that would be an upgrade," according to a flight attendant on the plane, who did not give their name.
American Airlines told Business Insider it could not confirm or deny the account without a specific flight number.
It pointed to a policy introduced on March 24 allowing passengers to sit further apart.
American Airlines made passengers on a near-empty plane sit right next to each other because it was not prepared to move them to more expensive seats, according to a new report.
According to Mother Jones, which published accounts from several unnamed American flight attendants, the flight in question took off on March 24 with only 11 people on board.
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However, the attendant said they were all seated in the back three rows because "they bought basic economy fares, so we can't put them further up in the cabin, because that would be an upgrade."
According to Mother Jones, the incident was one example of a broader trend at American.
Mother Jones said that the flight attendants later overruled the seating plan on their own initiative to spread them out.
American Airlines, when contacted by Business Insider about the account, said it could neither confirm or deny the claim without a specific flight number.
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It pointed to a policy introduced on March 24 — the same day as the incident described by Mother Jones — which provided for more social distancing.
It said American would allow passengers to move into vacant seats and said block as many middle seats as possible.