Southwest Airlines will begin trialing thermal temperature checks of passengers at Dallas Love Field from early August. The airport’s owners announced the initiative on Wednesday. To start with, it will run as a trial and last for 30 to 90 days. Thermal cameras will keep an eye on the temperature of passengers as they get on planes and the movement of people in lines.
During the trial, the thermal temperature checks will be used for research and fine-tuning the program rather than being linked to specific passengers.
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Southwest and Dallas Love Field join forces in thermal camera trial
Southwest Airlines’ base is at Dallas Love Field. The airline is keen on the trial and working with the airport’s owners in testing the cameras. During the week, Scott Halfmann, vice president of safety and security at Southwest Airlines told the Dallas News;
“We are pleased to partner with Dallas Love Field on this pilot project as thermal screenings could be an important additional layer of precaution that Southwest can offer customers starting at the very beginning of their travel journey.”
Both the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security have looked at thermal cameras in airports. Thus far, their response to the idea has been sluggish. Southwest’s CEO, Gary Kelly, has skin in the game. He wants the US Government and its agencies to work faster and to take control of temperature checking passengers nationwide.
Gary Kelly backs temperature checks, questions government commitment
Speaking at an earnings call yesterday, Gary Kelly, strongly supported temperature checks and questioned the US Government’s enthusiasm for it.
“There is an energy behind [the temperature checks]. Personally, I am a huge advocate for it. I think just this week, if not today, we are beginning our prototype with Dallas Love Field to test. It is for the sole purpose of trying to demonstrate to the TSA the efficacy of the process and so forth.
“Airlines for America is unanimous in its support for the temperature checks, so we have not lost our enthusiasm. I can’t speak for the administration. I wish they would take it up and get this done. It is one more layer of safety in defense against spreading the virus.
“Obviously things aren’t going the way we’d like in the US in terms of cases, so, I”m anxious to get moving on this. No lack of enthusiasm on our part.”
Southwest bunkers down for the long-haul
The trial at Dallas Love Field coincides with Southwest Airlines’ hardening its stance on passengers wearing masks. In line with many other airlines, it is now adopting a no mask, no fly rule, only exempting very young children. The airline is also continuing to block its middle seats until at least the end of October.
As infection rates continue to stay high across the United States and demand for travel stagnates, airlines are buckling in for a rough ride. There is a toughening of health and hygiene rules. The investment in trials such as thermal cameras indicates airlines like Southwest are looking beyond the short term.
It also bolsters the idea that initiative and good ideas often come from the private sector rather than the government.
While the US Government might dither, airlines like Southwest are taking the lead and looking for ways to expedite safe flying. The trial of thermal cameras at Dallas Love Field is one such example.