Major U.S. Airlines Want Temperature Checks at Airports

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Temperature Checks at Airports

Major U.S. Airlines Want Temperature Checks at Airports

Airlines for America, which represents several U.S. airlines, announced that its member carriers are supporting Transportation Security Administration plans to begin temperature checks for travelers and customer-facing employees as long as necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines for America members include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines and more.

The announcement on its website says that “temperature checks will add an extra layer of protection for passengers as well as airline and airport employees. Temperature checks also will provide additional public confidence that is critical to relaunching air travel and our nation’s economy. As all screening processes for the traveling public are the responsibility of the U.S. government, having temperature checks performed by the TSA will ensure that procedures are standardized, providing consistency across airports so that travelers can plan appropriately.”

TSA and health officials have been in talks to start temperature checks at airports. A decision could potentially be made as early as next week, Reuters reports. It’s possible that a pilot project for temperature checks would be launched first at the largest U.S. airports. If successful, it would then go nation wide.

Frontier Airlines was the first carrier to announce temperature checks on its own. The airline said that from June 1, it will require all passengers and employees to have their temperatures checked before boarding flights.

Does it Work?

One of the main issues with temperature checks is what happens when someone is turned away from a flight because of a temperature reading. Frontier for example said it will work with passengers that are turned away because of temperature readings. They will be rebooked to travel on a later date or the airline will work with them to find different accommodations. But it is not a very detailed explanation for cases where the airline and the passenger don’t agree on arrangements for example.

Additionally, there’s the question if temperature checks work. Temperature checks alone will not eliminate the risk of people carrying the virus from getting on a flight. Symptoms could appear anywhere between 2 days and 14 days after exposure, so just because someone doesn’t have a fever, doesn’t guarantee they don’t have the virus. And most  people with COVID-19 don’t develop significant symptoms at all.

While just temperature screening alone will not stop the spread of the virus in airports and aircraft, it is an added layer of security besides things like mandatory face masks. It will keep some people carrying the virus from getting onboard.

I would say that it is a useful extra step to keep passengers safe. You just should not have a false sense of security because of this must continue to follow CDC guidance, including wearing face masks, frequent hand-washing and staying home when ill.

Based in NYC. Points/miles enthusiast for years and actively writing about it for the last two years at Danny the Deal Guru. I'm always looking out for deals. Making a few bucks is always nice, but the traveling is by far the best part of this business.

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  1. If and when this put in place will no longer fly, stay home and exist…. numerous causes of temp. rise that have nothing to do with this ” virus” and are NOT contagious… violation of passenger rights, give up freedom for security , you will surely lose both…. someone named Franklin said that long ago..

  2. People keep things in perspective. This virus kills kills old people, sick people. This virus rejuvenates society, makes it healthier and younger.
    If you are someone that believes in capitalism you should want this culling of the herd, survival of the fittest.

    So please go about life as normal..we should try to spread this virus as much as we can to make our society better.

  3. Key sentence – “Temperature checks also will provide additional public confidence that is critical to relaunching air travel and our nation’s economy.” Translation – more security theater just like we got after 9/11. Given that there is asymptomatic spread of the virus I doubt temperature checks will have much value plus a fever does not mean you are infected. You really want to cut the spread? Mandatory testing at the airport or maybe with 24 hours of flight time. Given the new rapid tests this should be doable as long as testing capacity is adequate.

    • I agree. Airlines are just looking for ways to resume travel. It is similar to the empty middle seat. Yes it could have a small effect, but it is mainly just that, “additional public confidence” so people are not scared of flying. And minimal expense, just a few thermometers.

  4. NO NO NO! What if I have an infection that’s causing the temperature rise? Not infectious at all. That’s where I’m scared of this. Had a vacation last year where I flew back to the mainland and got a really bad gash in my leg that got infected…..I ran a fever for several days. So I’d be denied flying home because of the fever? Who foots the bill for my hotel room if they won’t let me fly home? I was on the west coast, 2000 miles from any family and 2000 miles from home.

    • That’s a very good point about those who have a fever but not carrying the virus. And the question of who foots the bill arises even for people who do have COVID-19.

      • Sadly I think they’re say it’s “not our problem” and thus I predict lots and LOTS of angry people. Testing might fix this problem, but is it even legally allowed to require people to submit to a rapid blood/swap test before they can travel between states? International might be easier to require but then what happens with layovers within the US? So many questions that don’t have easy answers…..and as of yet no solution that will really work.


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