Qantas Responds to Criticism for Packed Flight Without Social Distancing
After criticism, Qantas Airlines is responding to a photo posted on a packed flight aboard QF755 over Easter weekend, which traveled from Townsville to Brisbane, Australia on April 13th.
The Onboard Photo That Started It
Twitter user @greenmitty posted a picture of the packed aircraft, which also showed that many of the people whose faces can be seen in the photo not wearing face masks. Of course, this is not entirely surprising. According to the Australian Department of Health, face masks generally should not be worn by Australians in public. The exception to that guidance is if somebody is sick. The Australian Government is reportedly reevaluating that advice, but no change has yet occurred. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many (if not all) the people are not wearing masks.
This is a on a flight from Nth Qld to Bris today for work.
What kind of social distancing is this? Pls RT. #covid19australia@Qantas @AnnastaciaMP @MadFckingWitch @vanOnselenP @abcnews @ScottMorrisonMP pic.twitter.com/dAs9TNjPXf
— 😷🐨💧Greenmitty🌳 (@greenmitty) April 13, 2020
Clearly, the photo does not demonstrate the safe social distancing that is highlighted by the Australian Department of Health. According to government guidance, Australians should maintain a distance of 1.5 meters (~ 5 feet) from other people. In addition, they should stay home except for essential reasons to leave the house. It is highly unlikely that traveling for Easter weekend would fall under that category for most people.
As of April 16, Australia has 6,462 cases and 63 total deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins.
At first, there were questions about the validity of the photo. The Twitter user posted a photo of their boarding pass (thankfully, with the proper information withheld for safety!).
Here is the boarding pass dated yesterday. The flight pic is genuine. If anyone can tell me how to display a date on a pic that’s already been taken, let me know. @QANTAS #SocialDistancing #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/3gVfHxA7Ia
— 😷🐨💧Greenmitty🌳 (@greenmitty) April 14, 2020
Qantas responded to the criticism, essentially confirming that the photo was legitimate. In a statement to Fox News Qantas said, “The average load factors on our aircraft have been very low, with most flights around 30 percent full, so social distancing has been happening by default. The weekend saw some flights that were busier, which was the case on this particular flight.”
Qantas said they have instituted social distancing moving forward, which will seat customers at aisle and window seats and keeping the middle seat open.
It was incredibly poor on their part to have a flight full of people without following their very own government’s standards. That being said, there’s also a level of criticism that should be geared towards the passengers themselves. It is hard to imagine that all the people on that flight are traveling for essential reasons. Given the timing of the travel around a holiday, it seems likely that many of the people were flying for the purpose of visiting family. I don’t think it jives with the standards set out by the Australian government.