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Packed flights cause added concerns for COVID-19 exposure

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- As we enter the 4th of July weekend, many are concerned about COVID-19 exposure as they plan trips, especially when it comes to flying.

American Airlines has informed passengers that its flights will be busy starting July 1st. The airline started filling its middle seat that used to be empty for social distancing. The decision has caused fear for some travelers.

Janet Luick, an American Airlines customer, said she was seated in the middle seat during one of her flights.

"Every flight I was on was full, in fact, two days ago, I got a message that if I wanted to change flights because it was so full, I could," she said.

The airline sent a message to passengers saying the flight will be busy, and that customers could change flights at no charge.

Sarah Christian, another traveler, said she didn't expect the plane to be as crowded as it was.

"We knew the risks that we were taking but we were hoping it wouldn't be as packed," Christian said.

Jame Lund, a travel agent for Connections by Avra said her clients are paying extra for a flight on another airline, that keeps the middle seat open.

"Delta has definitely held to the rule that they are going to keep a middle seat open. Whether that's domestically or more importantly internationally. And so I do have clients that will pay to fly Delta because of their policy," Lund said.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) urges people to be mindful of where they travel to and increase cleanliness measures when traveling.

Dr. Ruth Lynfield, MDH Epidemiologist, says overall choices impact the risk of getting the virus

"It needs to be an individual risk factor calculation," she said.

Luick said her middle seat did make her nervous but she did have an overall good flight.

Christian shared a message for future travelers.

"They were very booked. So, be comfortable if that is what you choose to do," she said.

Most airlines are making masks mandatory.

Lund said most airplanes have a good filtration system, so once you get on board you should open up the air vent to keep air flowing.

KaMaria Braye

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