Delta Now Takes Passenger Temperatures at LAX, Denies Flying To Anyone With A Fever

Delta Air Lines is now doing temperature checks of passengers at LAX. Anyone departing from their terminal 2 (but not those making a domestic connection) will have their temperature scanned via thermal imaging camera.

This is a test program expected to last for two to three weeks and could continue and expand across airports Delta serves (at least in terminals that Delta controls). Their effort dovetails a test of taking passenger temperatures rolled out by LAX airport in June. The airport’s efforts were voluntary because mandatory checks by the airport would be legally questionable (though the FAA has provided airports with assurances that they won’t violate federal grant rules by doing them).

Airlines have asked TSA to do temperature checks that would clearly be illegal, and dangerous with the government denying travel to people even when poorly-maintained machines register incorrect readings.

In Delta’s version no one gets their individual temperature taken. Anyone with a temperature over 100.4 degrees via scanner will not be permitted to travel. Instead they’ll be offered a reschedule of their flight or a refund. Airlines requiring sick people to show up at the airport for a refund is a problem and carriers need to stop effectively pressuring passengers to fly while sick.

Delta could join Frontier as the only airlines performing temperature checks on passengers broadly if this test gets rolled out further.

Ultimately temperature checks are of limited use because they do nothing to stop pre-symptomatic spread (it’s believed people with COVID-19 are most infectious before they have a fever) and because many people choosing to travel with a fever would consciously choose to take over the counter medication to bring down the fever. Arguably a smell test would be a better approach because loss of smell happens earlier and more frequently in Covid patients.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Great….let some idiot with a 3.99 usd thermometer from amazon decide
    More theatre for the masses

  2. Are they opening themselves to ADA liability? Plenty of non-contagious chronic conditions present with occasional fevers above 100. My SO has an auto-immune condition with a fever that fluctuates above 100 on occasion depending on interaction of meds, but she just goes about her full workday like normal

  3. In other news Uncle Joe announces expansion of Obamacare into the union aviation sector in 2021.

  4. Why is it for some idiotic Americans it is so hard to comprehend that all the health measures are to insure that only healthy ones can fly and therefore not infect others and spread the virus! You hear all the complains about his own rights offended? Some of you need a real reality slap on your face! So you can see how many Americans are infected and die everyday!

  5. It would not be illegal for TSA to screen passenger temperatures. Perhaps ineffective, but certainly not illegal.

    There also is not any ADA issue (or issue under the ACAA). The ADA would permit temperature screening to prevent a direct threat to public health. In the employment context, the EEOC has stated that this permits employers and office buildings to do temperature screening. The same analysis would apply to TSA or an airline screening for airport/aircraft access.

  6. This is stupid.

    Will have negligible impacts on actually preventing COVID from getting on a plane; and will result in denying boarding to people who don’t have COVID and aren’t infectious.

    Asinine theater.

  7. Since Delta is piloting this in LA, they could also consult with Madame AubZumZum to do reading of the thermal image scans and examine passengers Auras. This woiuld increase acceptance by delta la flyers and might also be useful for making upgrades and lounge seating arrangements using social dating sites like tinder etc.

  8. In response to the comment posted by Adam Boyd above being “Why is it for some idiotic Americans it is so hard to comprehend that all the health measures are to insure that only healthy ones can fly and therefore not infect others and spread the virus! You hear all the complains about his own rights offended? Some of you need a real reality slap on your face! So you can see how many Americans are infected and die everyday”, this is what I will say. YOU ARE RIGHT ON AMIGO. I could not agree with you more. Some people are horribly failing to realize that this is not about themselves nor about infringement on their civil rights. This is NOT about government or big corporations trying to control them. It is about social responsibility. We all live in a society where what we do impacts others around us. We should therefore stop being so pathologically narcissistic only thinking of ourselves. We need to think about the welfare of others.around us too. Temperature checks are not ideal, true, since individuals who are asymptomatic will be missed during the screening process. BUT it is better than nothing. Actually we should be testing everyone getting on a plane with the SARS-CoV-2 rapid test. I think Qatar Airways was doing that (may still be doing that – am not sure). I do not know if any of you have actually seen COVID19 patients gasping for breath in the ICU? Of those who go on ventilators, about 70-80% die. Of the 20% – 30% who get off the ventilator, the majority have long term cardiac and pulmonary complications. Additionally, neurologic and neuropsychiatric sequelae have been reliably documented in the scientific medical literature as well. This virus, unfortunately, wreaks havic on multiple organ systems. We are not talking about a plain cold. How difficult does it have to be?. It is a no brainer. What you do impacts those around you. We are not going to succeed in controlling this pandemic by refusing to wear masks on planes and other places, by congregating in bars or at political rallies and by deliberately refusing to follow the sound medical advice of the infectious diseases experts on the grounds that our consitutional rights are being violated. Lets face it, once you are dead, constitutional rights become meaningless. . It is unbelievable that we have to debate this? I just cannot wrap my head around how people are thinking. I am totally floored.

  9. “So you can see how many Americans are infected and die everyday!”

    It would behoove you to actually check the numbers. I can’t help wondering if you were advocating for this during past flu seasons. Don’t worry, we know answer. The hypocrisy is stunning.

  10. Doctor SS – off-topic, but hitting the enter key every now and then really helps readability. You’re not charting here.

    I am not floored. We live in a world of filter bubbles. Google shows you the news that is likely to appeal to you, which can be a feedback loop of whatever you believe. Your Facebook and Instagram feeds are designed for engagement, not honesty and integrity. Behind all of it is monetary incentive.

  11. Don’t mistake – I don’t want to ‘break up big tech’ or some other banal response. I believe legislation and regulation is the answer.

  12. Thank you for your leadership Delta.

    I will continue flying with you after the pandemic, as you’ve clearly shown why you deserve my money even if you’re more expensive. As a business owner I understand that taking care of people takes money. Buying on price is dumb anyway as the cheapest is usually the worse value as it’s full of hidden costs (in this case, getting COVID).

  13. @James N — The hypocrisy of the COVID-deniers is in plain sight at your nearest morgue (if you live in the USA).

    200,000 excess deaths to date and no vaccine in sight. The flu killed an average of 37,000 people yearly over 9 months AND a there’s a vaccine, one that the majority of Americans choose not to take even though EVERY doctor says you should.

  14. What a stupid move. So what if my temp is 38.0c ? Has nothing to do with covid, only with pandering to paranoia.

    Show me one example of in-flight transmission (if you can find one in the first place) where this would have been effective in preventing transmission.

  15. Temperature checking seems like health theater at this point, when it comes to this pandemic.

    It would be more effective to require what DL requires of passengers flying to Alaska: a timely test for the virus of concern.

  16. This is very simple…. if you do not agree with Delta’s temperature check policy Do Not Fly with them. Sick of all the people crying about airlines ‘infringing’ on your rights. You have choices in airline carriers. I personally applaud their policies if you don’t good on you go fly Spirit.

  17. @NFO
    Its not about infringing on rights, it’s about something that makes no sense and does not work
    You can have fever without covid and viceversa so what is the point?

  18. Fever can be a symptom of COVID and yes you can also be infected with no symptoms. But if you have a fever outside of the flu season you can reasonably assume they have the virus….. therefore they are not allowed in planes what’s the argument.

  19. @NFO
    “You can reasonably assume they have the virus”
    Seriously? Did you raise kids? They never had fever?
    What is the official start and end of flu season? You can not have the flu in may?
    Your comment is beyond ridiculous

  20. Beyond ridiculous? Does that include boarding a plane in a pandemic with a fever? If you have a fever do you not self quarantine? Who cares if it’s a kid or not… they can carry the virus.

  21. @NFO
    You really don’t get it do you?
    There are many reasons to have fever and not have COVID
    Denying boarding to someone ONLY because they have fever is ridiculous and if you don’t get get it nobody can explain it to you

  22. You are correct in stating that a fever does not necessarily mean the passenger has COVID19. But what do you propose? Saying it’s ridiculous may be true but absent a SARS-CoV-2 rapid test what options do you have ? Even the rapid test can have errors depending on how the specimen is collected

    Are you saying we should allow passengers with fevers onto the aircraft by not even checking their temps? True the fever may be due to non COVID19 related conditions but can you afford to take that risk?

    What if the person did have COVID19? Remember that the gate agents are not doctors. They are not qualified to render a medical diagnosis

    In my opinion doing temperature checks although not ideal is better than doing none. Denying boarding to passengers with fevers may result in high false positive rates but the alternative of missing the true positives would be highly highly unwise and risky.

    I think temperature checks along with a detailed medical screening history concerning COVID19 symptoms would be the ideal way to go if rapid testing is not available This can be done at the gate or prior to boarding when checking in online (COVID19 questionnaire)

    I will also be the first to acknowledge that to catch those individuals with COVID19 requires honesty. Passengers can lie and deny having symptoms when in fact they do and it’s not hard to lower your body temperature if you knew how to do it to make sure you appear to be afebrile when being checked by the gate agent

    I would sincerely hope that passengers would be honest in their reporting of symptoms experienced over the two week period leading up to travel

    Just as an aside I would not get onto an aircraft without making sure I am wearing an N95 mask. Although not perfect it’s highly effective in infection control It’s highly effective in keeping out SARS-CoV-2

    I am up on the research on Hepa filters in aircraft and the likelihood of catching the virus onboard The Hepa filter would only address circulated air on board the aircraft. It does not address sitting next to a person with COVID19 and having them talk or breathe in your direction (I would hope people would care enough to wear a mask and not engage in I don’t believe in wearing a face mask attitude)

    I keep telling people. The most effective way to control this pandemic is by wearing a mask in public and by practicing social distancing

  23. I neglected to state this in my earlier post

    Temperature checks are not unique to airports and aircraft gates Temperature checks are being routinely utilized at doctor offices, medical clinics, dentist offices, and even at many hairdresser and barber shops

    Temp checks are not the gold standard for catching someone infected with SARS2 but they are better than no temperature checks at all

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