A photo of a crowded flight posted on Twitter by a cardiologist returning from the New York City area may hint at the difficulties of social distancing as air travel picks up again.

Dr. Ethan Weiss tweeted a photo Saturday showing what appears to be a full United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco. Though passengers are wearing masks, he said the crowded cabin runs counter to United’s assurances that it would leave middle seats empty in order to promote social distancing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“I guess @united is relaxing their social distancing policy these days? Every seat full on this 737,” tweeted Weiss along with the photo. He is both a physician and a scientist at the University of California San Francisco who had been in New York working to aid with the coronavirus crisis.

In a separate tweet, Weiss included a statement from United’s chief customer officer, sent to all passengers, saying, “We’re automatically blocking middle seats to give you enough space on board.”

He said in a tweet he was among the medical workers who had been flown to New York for free by United to help care for the flood of patients due to the pandemic. He added that “people on this plane are scared/shocked.”

Read more…