Man shares concerns after crowded flight back to Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A St. Johns County man shared photos of what he said was a recent flight from Boston that passed through Chicago on his way back home.

Jimmy Solari said his flight was crowded and that some people at an airport were not practicing social distancing.

“Some of the passengers were wearing masks, some were not,” Solari said.

He flew on an American Airlines flight to Massachusetts to see his father on his deathbed. He made it just in time to say goodbye.

But on his way back to Jacksonville, he said his stopover at Chicago O’Hare was concerning.

“The bartender was leaning on the bar with no mask on. There were people standing arm in arm without masks on,” Solari said.

Solari said the photos he shared show the lack of concern from some people amid the outbreak.

“Probably about half the people in the airport were wearing masks and appeared to be taking this thing seriously,” he said.

On the flight, Solari said, things were worse.

“It appears the seats were two by two and all the way back it looks like a full flight,” he said.


After the flight, Solari decided to get tested for COVID-19. He got an antibody test and a traditional test. The antibody test came back negative, he said.

American Airlines started requiring all passengers to wear masks Monday. They can only be removed to eat or drink.

The airliner said it’s “restricting access to some seats, when possible, to give you more space.” It also said, “when time and flight loads permit, gate agents may move your seat as needed to help create a more comfortable environment.”

“I appreciate everyone who is doing their part and trying to maintain our sense of community health here,” Solari said. “This is not about individuals. This is about the community.”

A statement from the media relations department at American Airlines reads:

“On flights through May 31, American will limit the number of passengers on each aircraft. As part of this limit, American will not assign 50% of main cabin middle seats or seats near flight attendant jump seats on every flight, and will only use those middle seats when necessary. Gate agents will also continue to reassign seats to create more space between customers or to accommodate families who need to be seated together. Once on board — as long as there aren’t any aircraft weight or balance restrictions — customers can move to another seat within their ticketed cabin subject to availability.

“On flights that don’t have middle seats (which was this flight – a regional E-175 aircraft from ORD to JAX), we are blocking seats strategically throughout the cabin.

"If a customer is booked, and does not want to fly: We are waiving change fees for all customers who have travel booked through Sept. 30, 2020. This enables customers to rebook immediately – or in the future – and retain the full amount of the ticket they paid without incurring any change fees. Customers need to complete travel by Dec. 31, 2021, and have the ability to change their origin and destination as well.”

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