Major U.S. airlines represented by the Washington-based industry lobby group Airlines for American (A4A) say they will now require all passengers to sign a COVID-19 health declaration before being allowed to board as part of what they described as an “additional level of protection during the pandemic”. Airlines to introduce or reaffirm their commitment to passenger health declarations include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.
While health declarations introduced by different airlines may vary slightly from airline to airline, they will all include passengers signing an agreement to wear a face mask or covering over their mouth and nose when they are in the airport, on the jet bridge and onboard the aircraft.
Passengers will also confirm they are not travelling with any COVID-19 related symptoms including a high temperature of 100.4℉ or higher, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, chills, muscle pain and/or sore throat.
Finally, passengers will also have to provide an assurance that they have not had any close contact with anyone who has tested positive for the novel Coronavirus or displayed any symptoms of the potentially deadly illness within the past 14-days.
The declaration criteria largely mimic what United Airlines introduced when it became the first major U.S. airline to ask all passengers to complete a health self-assessment earlier this month. Passengers travelling on United must either complete the declaration via the United mobile app before getting to the airport or if they are checking-in at the airport an agent will ask them for their verbal confirmation before issuing a boarding pass.
United also asks passengers if they have been denied boarding by another airline due to a medical screening for a communicable disease in the last 14 days.
“Health assessments prior to air travel are just one more important measure in our multi-layered approach to help mitigate risk and prioritize the wellbeing of passengers and employees,” explained A4A’s president and chief executive Nicholas E. Calio.
“We want passengers to know that they should expect to see this added layer of protection the next time they check-in for a flight.”
The new policy comes just weeks after A4A and its member airlines promised to take tough action against passengers who refuse to wear a face mask or covering despite rules that make the wearing of face masks mandatory. While airlines are still hesitant to haul passengers off planes for refusing wear a face covering, they will now slap belligerent passengers with a ‘no-fly’ notice for future travel.
Pre-travel health declarations have been promoted by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as part of a series of Coronavirus “biosecurity” measures that are designed to secure the safety of air travel and restore passenger confidence.
Last week, airline chief executives met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the White House to discuss a number of undisclosed issues. It’s understood that one of the most pressing matters was a call for the federal government to introduce mandatory temperature checks at all of the nation’s airports.
A4A said last Thursday that its members would voluntarily pledge to refund tickets for any passenger who is found to have an elevated temperature if thermal screening was introduced.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.