Major US Airlines Introduce Preflight Health Declarations

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Several major United States airlines have come together to make preflight health declarations mandatory for all passengers. The news was announced by the advocacy group Airlines For America earlier today.

Airlines For America, COVID-19, Health Declaration
A US airline lobby group has today introduced more stringent preflight passenger screening. Photo: Getty Images

Airlines around the world are taking steps to cope with the current pandemic. This has seen many airlines mandating masks on flights. Additionally, many US airlines have been implementing social distancing. Some have even gone as far as to mandate temperature checks before boarding. However, now a group of US airlines has signed up to a wealth of new measures. But what’s changing? Let us take a look!

What’s changing?

Airlines for America, a US aviation lobby group, today announced a simple health acknowledgment during the check-in process for all passengers. These measures will affect passengers on seven of the United States’ largest airlines:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

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Each passenger traveling with one of the airlines will be required to fill out a brief declaration before flying. This will cover three different sectors relating to hygiene and health status.

American Airlines, Boeing 777, Grounded
Seven airlines are to introduce the preflight declarations. Photo: Getty Images

The first area will touch on masks, according to A4A. This will ask passengers for “assurance that the passenger will bring a face covering and wear it at the airport, on the jet bridge, and onboard the aircraft.”

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Next, symptoms of the current pandemic will be examined on the form. A4A says that this section of the declaration will discuss “assurance that the passenger is not experiencing a temperature (38C/100.4F or higher), coughing, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, chills, muscle pain and/or sore throat.”

Last but not least, the airlines listed above will try to establish whether passengers have a considerable risk of having being exposed to the virus. A4A says these questions will focus on “assurance that the passenger has not had close contact with someone who tested positive or had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.”

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Unfit to travel?

It seems as though airlines are taking these questionnaires incredibly seriously. A4A says that those who refuse to fill in a form will be deemed unfit for travel. Of course, it is always possible that passengers could lie on their declaration, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if a handful of passengers did do this.

Canada temperature checks
Passengers who did not complete the declaration would be deemed unfit to travel. Photo: Getty Images

However, it would add a certain safety net against those who may not realize that they are not suitable to travel due to COVID-19 symptoms. A4A says that we should expect the health declarations to remain in place until the current COVID crisis has passed. It will likely be up to the individual airlines to decide if such policies remain after the virus has subsided. However, recently airBaltic’s CEO, Martin Gauss, told us that he didn’t think such measures are the new normal.

What do you make of A4A’s new health declaration policy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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