Airlines Call for TSA to Take Temperatures—And Pledge to Refund Anyone Turned Away
The coronavirus pandemic has already changed the process of flying as we know it, with airlines actively enforcing in-flight mask requirements and continuing to block out middle seats. We've also seen airlines go above and beyond to accommodate customers during this uncertain time—cancellation policies, for starters, are more flexible than they've been in a while.
In a move that highlights both these shifts, major U.S. airlines announced last week a new accommodation for travelers: Should TSA begin performing a temperature check at the gate, those who display a fever and are thus prohibited from boarding flights will be offered a full refund.
"Today, Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, announced that its member carriers will voluntarily pledge to refund tickets for any passenger who is found to have an elevated temperature—as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines—during a screening process conducted by federal authorities prior to travel," said A4A in a press release. The release states that its member carriers, which include Delta, United, and American Airlines, support the idea of the Transportation Security Administration conducting temperature screenings—though the TSA has not announced plans to do so at this time. A TSA spokesperson confirmed via email Monday that the TSA has yet to make a decision on whether they will implement a temperature check, and is not currently requiring airlines to conduct them.
"Temperature checks are one of several public health measures recommended by the CDC amid the COVID-19 pandemic and will add an extra layer of protection for passengers as well as airline and airport employees," says the release. "Temperature checks also will provide additional public confidence that is critical to relaunching air travel and our nation’s economy." Some airlines are currently conducting their own temperature checks in airports throughout the U.S., but the press release also notes having this process conducted by the TSA will ensure standardization, "providing consistency across airports so that travelers can plan appropriately."
Airlines including United and Alaska have also added health questionnaires to the check-in process, and Emirates has pioneered a rapid coronavirus blood test that it is giving to passengers before they board.
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