Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has become the latest airport to begin screening passengers’ temperatures on arrival at the airport. The facility will begin a trial using thermal scanners today, on a voluntary basis. It will be made available to both arriving and departing passengers in a bid to tackle the spread of COVID-19.
Thermal screening trials from today
Los Angeles International (LAX) is today beginning a pilot scheme to check the temperature of passengers using thermal scanners. The scanners will be placed at Tom Bradley International Terminal, where international flights arrive and depart. Scanners will be in both the departure areas and the arrival points.
The trial is voluntary and won’t prevent anyone from traveling. Passengers will be advised not to travel if they display a temperature of more than 100.4 degrees. However, arriving passengers displaying a similar temperature will be referred to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mayor Eric Garcetti held a news conference at the terminal yesterday, during which he said,
“Our ability to spot folks exhibiting COVID[-19] symptoms, as we saw at the beginning of this pandemic, is so critical to stopping its spread and ensuring that people can travel safely.”
In a separate statement, he said,
“A world-class airport isn’t defined just by our historic investments in a reimagined LAX and an improved traveling experience –– it’s also about world-class safety. This project reflects the best of this city’s innovative spirit, and it will help keep travelers healthy and set a new industry standard.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, LAX was one of the busiest airports in the world. It moved a record 88.1 million passengers in 2019. However, during April, the passenger traffic at the airport was down 95% over what it had been the previous year.
What to expect if you’re traveling through LAX
Everything LAX has published on the matter says that this is a voluntary program. It’s not clear how you opt-out, but the airport has said there will be signage alerting travelers approaching a location where this trial is taking place.
It will use thermal screening cameras, which will register the body temperature of all passengers passing through its field of vision. If a person appears to have an elevated body temperature, they will be approached by a medical professional with a handheld, non-contact thermometer for secondary screening.
As previously noted, those departing LAX may be advised not to travel, but there is nothing to suggest they will be forcibly detained. Those arriving, however, may be referred to staff from the CDC.
The airport is launching the program in partnership with the Carlyle Airport Group through Schneider Electric. The trails will test three different types of cameras to determine which is more accurate in identifying people who are potentially ill. Evaluation of the trials will involve the TSA, airlines, CDC, and L.A. County Department of Public Health. It is hoped that the results of these trials will help to inform airports around the world, helping us to stay safer when traveling.
Temperature screening is not a silver bullet for wellness. Health professionals say that the virus can still be spread by people exhibiting no symptoms at all, and not running a fever. However, temperature checking alongside deeper cleaning and social distancing, where possible, will make travel a lot safer for airline passengers.
What do you make of the thermal screening at LAX? Will you be traveling soon? Let us know in the comments.