Delta Air Lines will begin thermal temperature scans of passengers at one of its terminals in Los Angeles (LAX) this week, the airline confirmed to Thrifty Traveler. It’s part of a three-week pilot that may eventually pave the way to make Delta the first legacy U.S. airline to employ temperature checks on a wide scale.
Starting Tuesday, Aug. 11, all travelers departing from Terminal 2 in Los Angeles (Delta’s primary terminal) will be required to pass through thermal temperature cameras. Anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher won’t be allowed to board.
“As a part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate and provide additional layers of protection for our customers and employees, we are testing a temperature screening process for customers flying out of LAX Terminal 2,” a Delta spokeswoman told Thrifty Traveler.
Delta is piggybacking on efforts already underway in Los Angeles, where airport officials have been testing thermal imaging cameras in the Tom Bradley International Terminal since June, the Los Angeles Times reports. Delta’s test run at LAX is a natural extension.
The airline’s pilot program at LAX is expected to last three weeks. It’s unclear if Delta plans to try out temperature checks elsewhere or eventually roll it out nationwide. But giving these checks a test run at one of the world’s busiest airports is a huge step in a major flashpoint for U.S. air travel.
Airlines are under pressure to make flying safer as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic. And while temperature checks are commonplace elsewhere across the globe, they’ve never caught on in the U.S., where airlines have pleaded with federal agencies like the TSA to implement temperature checks to no avail. So airlines are making moves on their own.
Budget carrier Frontier is the only U.S. airline currently checking passengers’ temperatures before all flights. Southwest launched a pilot project at its Dallas-Love Field (DAL) hub this month, but thermal scanners aren’t being used to monitor passengers’ health just yet, according to the Dallas Morning News. And Delta and several other carriers already take passenger temperatures before flights to Canada, China, and South Korea due to foreign requirements.
But Delta has regularly led the pack among larger airlines with safety measures, like blocking middle seats and rigorous cleaning processes. So it makes sense that Delta is the first among the legacy carriers to try out temperature scanning.
How Temperature Checks Work
The thermal scanning for Delta will take place at departure checkpoints in Terminal 2 by thermal imaging cameras – not individual temperature checks used at some hotels and retail centers. Only travelers departing Delta’s Terminal 2 at LAX or connecting from an international flight will be subjected to checks – passengers making a domestic connection through Terminal 2 are exempt.
Passengers turned away after failing two temperature checks can work with Delta to either reschedule a trip or get a refund.
While temperature checks may not catch asymptomatic carriers of the virus, they can prevent travelers with severe cases or other illnesses from getting on a plane.
They haven’t caught on in the U.S., but thermal temperature scanning is commonplace in other corners of the globe. Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air France, and Air Canada have all implemented thermal temperature checks for travelers.
Airlines hoped the federal government would step up and test travelers’ temperatures, but they haven’t. Now Delta is doing so on its own – or at least trying it out to see if it’s a long-term solution.
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Lead photo courtesy of Delta.