United Airlines acknowledged Tuesday that it has plans to cut 3,400 positions by October 1

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Not since 9/11 has the airline industry experienced terminals and ticket counters barren.

"It is a new way of life for us and we got to get used to it," said Sally Thomas, a passenger.

After an internal memo leaked, United Airlines acknowledged Tuesday that it has plans to cut 3,400 positions by October 1. The news comes despite a $50 billion federal aid package for the industry designed to, among other things, protect jobs.

Passenger demand for Chicago's hometown airline says is practically nil.

"PostOctober 1, we're thinking about being a smaller airline. We're expecting that even if demand starts to recover over the summer, there's no guarantees that will happen... hopefully it will, even if it does it seems very unlikely that it will be back to where it was at the beginning of this year," said Josh Earnest, United Airlines chief communications officer.

United is the first major airline to announce staff cuts.

Employees declined to speak camera said that management has hinted at the cuts for weeks.

Delta said Tuesday that it will limit seating per plane to 50 percent in first class, 60 percent in the rest of the plane and block more than just the middle seats.

"I've never seen anything like it I've been traveling since I was a kid I've never seen anything like this in my life," said passenger Brendan Holohan.

Chicago congressman Chuy Garcia denounced the anticipated job cuts. Garcia accused United of acting in bad faith when it asked the government for help.

The job cuts were denounced by Chicago congressman Chuy Garcia. He accused United of acting in bad faith when it asked for government help.

Garcia said rescinding help for United is on the table in Washington DC. In the meantime, United will rely on furloughs and voluntary separations in early retirement to try and survive.

"This is going to have an impact on our frontline workers, people who have dedicated their careers to being flight attendants, pilots, and gate agents and technicians," Garcia said. "It's also going to have an impact on our white collar worker population as well."
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