Bilyonaryo Lucio Tan’s PAL thinks passengers can sit next to one another —just like pre-COVID-19 times—since they’re wearing face masks.
This was the explanation given by the flag carrier when passengers complained about a packed flight.
PAL passenger Dux Carvajal posted videos and images of himself on a flight surrounded by other passengers to show the airline’s relaxed social distancing measures, which effectively rendered his strict isolation and COVID-19 testing useless.
“I did not just do a billion PCR tests, spend days in isolation at a hotel bubble, and do everything in my power to observe strict safety protocols only for you guys to cancel our afternoon flight so you can consolidate and cram all of us like sardines into one flight. This is blatant disregard for our safety,” said Carvajal, a photographer.
“I have flown multiple international flights already in the time of Covid. This never happened with the other airlines. I am shocked. I am angry,” he added.
Replying to Carvajal’s post, PAL said social distancing on a plane trip isn’t necessary when passengers are wearing face masks.
“Social distancing on board is obviated by the wearing of face coverings by all on top of transmission-reducing characteristics of the cabin (everybody is front facing, air flow is from ceiling to floor, seats provide a barrier to forward/aft transmission, and air filtration systems that operate to hospital operating theatre standards),” PAL explained.
The airline said “fresh cabin air” circulates every few minutes and there are HEPA filters that weed out viruses so passengers don’t have to worry about catching COVID-19.
In addition, PAL said its cabin surfaces are disinfected and cleaned, while the crew wears protective personal equipment (PPE) during the flight.
“Safety remains the cornerstone of PAL operations. Travel rules and regulations are subject to regular review and adjustment by aviation authorities in consultation with air carriers, in the interest of public safety. We hope this clarifies,” the flag carrier said.