Social distancing, but at a cost. On Monday, June 15, reports emerged that Flair Airlines was still allowing passengers to sit in the middle seat on flights. Therefore, people weren't seeing the one-seat separation between passengers that many other airlines are doing. As it turns out, this is because customers are choosing not to pay the additional $49 to keep the middle seat empty.
According to CTV News, a woman posted a photo of a packed Flair flight from Calgary to Vancouver. The photo reportedly showed all middle seats occupied in the three-seat sections on either side.
CTV reported that many airlines have stopped filling the middle seat in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flair Airline's CEO, Jim Scott, told the outlet that Flair can do the same. But the cost of that would be passed onto the customers instead, he said.
Narcity has reached out to Flair Airlines for comment and we will update this article when we have a response.
According to a press release from May 27, Flair Airlines began giving passengers the option to keep the middle seat free if they paid an extra $49.
"Recent studies have shown that low-fare travel is important to Canadians. However, many have been hesitant to fly due to the recent events, affecting all airline travel," read the press release.
The airline launched the initiative, called "Comfort Choice Seating," which became effective on May 27, 2020.
"For $49 CAD, passengers booking seats in rows two to
six will be able to take advantage of a middle-seat-free-experience," the release stated.
Jim Scott told CTV that Flair Airlines' customers aren't rich. So, he said, they'll be careful instead and wear a mask or face covering to save money.
@PaulineTapuska @CTVVancouver @adriandix @Canada @globalnews 2/2 - Prior to your arrival onboard, all passengers re… https://t.co/dvDe2PnQEu— flair airlines ⚫️ (@flair airlines ⚫️)1592253749.0
As part of a Twitter exchange with the woman who posted the photo of the Vancouver-bound flight, Flair Airlines said, "Prior to your arrival onboard, all passengers receive visual mask checks, temperature checks and a health questionnaire. In addition, we also complete a full disinfecting of the aircraft at each station stop."
@BrittAtGlobal @PaulineTapuska @CTVVancouver @adriandix @Canada @globalnews Hi Brittany, our safety measures do inc… https://t.co/otuD3zzjw6— flair airlines ⚫️ (@flair airlines ⚫️)1592254876.0
When some accused the airline in the same thread of not following their own safety measures based on the photo of the packed flight, Flair Airlines went on to say, "our safety measures do include blocking off the middle seats for those who prefer the space. Passengers always have the choice when deciding how much room they prefer onboard."
@FlairAirlines @BrittAtGlobal @PaulineTapuska @CTVVancouver @adriandix @Canada @globalnews Correct me if I heard th… https://t.co/UXOru8Bj2t— Bruce Rowe (@Bruce Rowe)1592267465.0
The company also got accused by someone else on Twitter of "demeaning their clients" by saying that they don't have much money and they can't afford the additional cost.
This isn't the first packed flight that's been spotted since the pandemic. A Vancouver-bound flight raised a few eyebrows due to the number of people on board.
The article's cover photo was used for illustrative purposes only.