Cleveland Clinic is advising United Airlines, whose CEO says 'airplanes don't have social distancing'

Weeks after tapping Cleveland Clinic to inform its social distancing protocols, United Airlines is back to booking flights to full capacity, according to USA Today.

The Chicago-based airline touted a new partnership with Cleveland Clinic and Clorox May 20 after a physician on a United flight tweeted a photo showing "every seat full on this 737." The tweet went viral earlier that month. Under the partnership, titled "United CleanPlus," medical experts from Cleveland Clinic were reportedly advising the carrier on cleaning, safety and social distancing protocols.

Days after Cleveland Clinic affiliated its reputation and expertise with United, the airline's new CEO, Scott Kirby, rejected the concept of social distancing while flying. 

"If you look at an airplane, airplanes don't have social distancing. Six feet — we're not going to be 6 feet apart," Mr. Kirby said during a May 28 conference

The CEO said the proximity of passengers on a flight does not affect their safety, "middle seat or not." Rather, he said air filtration, air circulation, face coverings and cleaning the plane "are the things that make an airplane safe."

United is not alone in booking flights to capacity. Spirit is doing the same, and American Airlines will begin doing so July 1. Southwest, Delta and JetBlue are blocking middle seats or restricting the number of seats for sale on each flight. Southwest has committed to doing it through Sept. 30, according to USA Today. 

With United planes back to capacity, passengers are back on Twitter detailing their experiences. "This is my flight on [@united], who doesn't practice social distancing and packs their planes. The air in the plane was blowing hot air and the temperature was like an incubator. Don't fly," one traveler tweeted June 23. 

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