easyJet’s seating arrangements have been described as a “joke” by a student after flying from Bristol Airport.
Jack Scrivener thinks the coronavirus safety measures on the airline were inadequate when he flew to Edinburgh from Somerset at 2.40pm on September 6.
The student at Dundee University said: “You can’t really blame the attendants but in terms of preparing the flight, you would expect a company to be a bit more on it.
“With cases starting to rise again and a so-called second spike potentially on the way, it felt like a case of getting as many people on board and making as much money as possible.”
Before flying to Scotland for his next term at university, Mr Scrivener, 20, had travelled to Bristol Airport from his home in Newquay, Bristol Live reports.
He said: “As we walked into the airport, there was what looked like a thermal screening tent. There didn’t seem much to it really.
“There wasn’t a temperature gun, just a guy on a computer. If they did a temperature check, it wasn’t obvious. The tent seemed more for show.”
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Inside the airport
Mr Scrivener was pleased to see everyone in the airport wearing masks and people socially distancing in most parts of the airport.
But he claims there was some crowding as passengers collected items from the conveyor belt after passing through the scanner.
“When people were collecting their things, there was nobody telling them to keep apart, and some people were close together while they grabbed stuff,” he said.
“It was more on you, whether you decided to socially distance. If the airport was ever hit with a busy period, it doesn’t appear they would be stopping people from crowding.
“In the waiting area, none of the seats were sealed off like you see on buses. I didn’t really see anyone policing it.
“Naturally people were separating, but if things got busy, there would be nothing to separate them.”
Mr Scrivener feels his experience in the airport was mostly “fine”, but he was surprised to see so many people at the departure gate.
He said: “There were about 100 people going on the plane. It was probably only 10 to 20 passengers off being full.”
Boarding the plane
Mr Scrivener added: “Walking onto the plane, I got to my row and there were two people already sitting there. I took my seat at the window and we were quite tightly packed in, no gap in the middle.
“The rows were filling up more and more. I was taken aback, a bit. I was surprised it was that full.
“I’d thought the plane would be like the airport, with fewer people, especially given it’s a confined space with basically no ventilation.
“I think some people, like my mum, would have wanted to up and leave because there were so many people on board.”
He was glad everyone was wearing a mask, which he described as “the one constant”.
“As the plane was about to leave, people were grabbing bags from the locker, going close to people,” he added.
“I don’t blame the attendants for that and it wasn’t too big a deal, but it was a bit concerning.”
When Mr Scrivener landed, he called his mum Fiona and told her the arrangements on the flight were a “joke”.
‘I entered the airport unchallenged’
Mrs Scrivener, who had seen her son off at the airport, was worried about the alleged lack of safety measures.
She said: “I think people need to know before booking flights that cramming people onto flights with no social distancing measures is absolutely the rule rather than the exception and seems to be going unchallenged.
“In my view a pre-flight Covid test would be essential for that to be appropriate. I entered the airport unchallenged via the temperature check tent, which was useless for asymptomatic Covid
“We worried my son’s bag might be too heavy so I came in to take items away if necessary.
“This wasn’t challenged by easyJet staff who assisted us in the airport. I had told them I wasn’t flying.
“I only found out when trying to find my way back out to the car park that I shouldn’t have been in the airport.”
The Government’s airport guidance says non-passengers should only enter an airport “where needed”, for example if a disabled person needs help.
What the airport and easyJet say
A spokeswoman said: “Bristol Airport has introduced a three step plan ‘Safe journeys start here’: get prepared, stay safe, let’s travel – an easy guide for customers of the extra procedures in place at the airport.
“The Covid-safe measures include temperature testing trials on departure; restricting terminal access to customers with boarding pass or tickets only; wearing of face coverings; enhanced cleaning; contactless payments; protective shields at customer service points; signage and one way systems and tanoy messaging.
“We continue to work closely with airlines, the Government, Department for Transport and Public Health England on the latest information and guidance to keep our customers and colleagues safe at all times.”
An easyJet spokeswoman said the safety and wellbeing of all customers on board is the airline’s highest priority.
She added: “During the pandemic this is more important than ever.
“We have implemented a number of measures on board in line with guidance from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) with the support of our company Chief Medical Adviser, to ensure we are fully aligned with the relevant medical and scientific advice.
“The guidelines set down by the regulator (EASA) do not require social distancing on board and advise a number of other measures to protect customers and crew which we have put in place including daily enhanced cabin disinfection effective in protecting against coronavirus for at least 24 hours and mandatory mask wearing for customers and crew.
“All of our aircraft are already fitted with HEPA filters, the same as those used in hospitals, which filter 99.97 per cent of airborne contaminants in the cabin including viruses and bacteria.”