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Airlines Launch “Health Acknowledgement” Requirement

Airlines Launch “Health Acknowledgement” Requirement
Joe Cortez

Members of the trade organization Airlines for America will start asking passengers for a “health acknowledgement” prior to travel. The plan calls for a questionnaire asking flyers if they have experienced symptoms associated with COVID-19, exposure to someone with the viral infection in the past two weeks, and for acceptance of airline face mask policies.

As airlines begin to welcome back passengers, protecting passengers from the novel Coronavirus pandemic is top of mind. To quell some of those concerns, members of trade group Airlines for America announced their members would launch a “health acknowledgement requirement” passengers must accept before flying.

Exposure, Symptoms and Mandatory Face Mask Use

The new health acknowledgement requirement will be adopted by seven U.S. carriers: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. The pre-flight screening will focus on three different areas: any symptoms flyers may be experiencing, potential exposure to someone with a positive COVID-19 test, and mandatory face mask usage.

Prior to flying, passengers must acknowledge that they are not currently experiencing any symptoms associated with a COVID-19 viral infection. The symptoms include running a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, a lost taste of sense or smell, chills, muscle pain, and a sore throat.

In addition, passengers must acknowledge they have not had exposure or close contact to someone who had a positive test for COVID-19 in the past two weeks. The passenger must also agree to wear a face covering at the airport, on the jet bridge and aboard the aircraft.

“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,” Airlines or America president and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said in a press release. “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.”

Added Requirements in Addition to Face Mask Usage

The new health screening is in addition to the airlines mandatory usage of face masks while flying, and a health screening experiment at Los Angeles International Airport. Although the airlines are unified on using the health acknowledgement, the carriers may left to determine appropriate penalties for non-compliance or falsifying the health acknowledgements. FlyerTalk reached out to Airlines for America to ask if their member airlines would impose penalties for those who falsified their health acknowledgement, but our requests were not returned.

The additional focus on face coverings comes as airlines start to book flights to capacity, while the FAA remains neutral on the issue. American Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines will all open middle seats for sale by July 1, 2020, while Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines will keep middle seats blocked off through at least the end of July.

Feature image courtesy: Alaska Airlines

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