Mother of Three Upset at Qantas Over Corona-Infected Passenger on Flight
Yesterday, we reported on Qantas responding to critics from a packed flight over Easter weekend. The flight clearly showed a lack of social distancing, as ordered by the Australian government. It seems that wasn’t the only flight over Easter weekend that was packed, according The Daily Telegraph.
The website reports that Melissa Dorries, a mother of three, was relocating to Brisbane from Melbourne, Australia. She claims that on the flight from Sydney to Brisbane on Monday the flight was very packed. She reportedly was shocked at how social distancing rules were disregarded since the airport followed social distancing procedures. By Thursday, she received information from Queensland Health that a passenger in the vicinity of where they sat tested positive for coronavirus.
Ms. Dorries is now in quarantine with her three kids for three weeks waiting to see if they have symptoms of the virus. She claims that Qantas did not have proper social distancing procedures in place.
Qantas Didn’t Seem to Prepare
Based on yesterday’s story about another packed Qantas flight, it seems Ms. Dorries is right. Qantas seemed ill-prepared for social distancing. They told Fox News earlier this week that they are now moving to a social distancing policy. But that announcement came after outrage over Easter weekend.
The Australian government tells Australians to keep a distance of 1.5 meters (~5 feet) between themselves and other people. The government also says people should stay home for anything but essential movements. Ms. Dorries claims she did not have a choice and that she had to travel for relocation with her husband.
Qantas states they will seat people on the window and aisle seats and avoid middle seats. On smaller aircraft, every other seat will be empty. That means every passenger will have an empty seat next to them.
This Follows the Trend of Policy Changes
The change by Qantas follows the trend many other major airlines took earlier. Delta announced this week that they changed their boarding procedures to encourage more social distancing. In mid-March, United Airlines announced to assist with social distancing on board their aircraft. American Airlines followed with a similar policy the next week.
It is surprising to me that Qantas seemed so unprepared for this, and they seem to be taking the heat for it now. It is not as if social distancing standards are new. It seems they dropped the ball over Easter weekend, when a good deal of people traveled around Australia.
Which leads me to my next point: why were so many people flying over Easter weekend? I made this point in yesterday’s article, too. It is mind boggling to me what was so important that there was numerous planes full of people. The social distancing guidelines are pretty straightforward in Australia. I certainly hope people weren’t visiting family for the holiday. However, since this all took place over a holiday it seems that may have been the case.
Lastly, if you’re uncomfortable, say something. It’s mind boggling to me how people took the flight and THEN complained about the lack of social distancing. Isn’t the time to do that before the flight leaves? Of course, that may come with the airline offering you to give up your seat on that flight. But if you’re really worried and the flight is truly that packed, speak up. Most people are reasonable during this time, and I find it hard to believe most gate agents wouldn’t understand.