LAX Airport Will Start Screening Passenger Temperatures Starting Tuesday

Starting Tuesday LAX airport will begin to do temperature screenings at the Tom Bradley International Terminal as people enter the airport and in the arrivals corridor using thermal imaging cameras. This is similar to what I’ve experienced, for instance, in Hong Kong for over 15 years.

Signs will direct travelers to walk through an area where cameras that detect whether someone has a temperature of 100.4 or higher are stationed. Those who show an elevated temperature will be pulled aside for a secondary screening to confirm.

No one will be required to go through temperature screenings at this point according to the airport, which says that “[p]articipation will be voluntary, and the airport will not stop anyone from continuing with their journey during the pilot test — although workers will give advice from county and federal health officials about traveling with an elevated temperature.”

At this point they’re testing to see if the technology works, taking accurate readings. And they hope what they learn will be put into practice “across the industry.”

However mandatory airport temperature checks would be legally questionable though the FAA has provided airports with assurances that they won’t violate federal grant rules by doing them.

While 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 readers. Nonetheless the TSA has been doing its own tests of passenger temperature screenings.

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 consciously choosing to travel with a fever would consciously choose to take over the counter medication to bring down the fever.

Nonetheless it might stop someone from traveling with the virus (or from traveling with any number of other ailments that cause fever that aren’t caused by SARS-CoV-2.

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. James N, so true, your posts at this point are beyond stupid and ignorant…get out of your parents’ basement and get a life already

  2. A new level to “Security Theatre”

    Asymptomatic folk in theory do not in-fact exhibit symptoms hence the “A” before symptomatic.

    Masks, good hygiene are the best protectors.

  3. @geoff while this won’t get asymptonatic carriers it will definitely catch out those with mild symptoms who choose to fly.

  4. James – it isn’t stupid. Yes there is a chance pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, however the WHO indicates it is a lot lower than transmittal from someone already displaying symptoms. If for no other reason someone with symptoms is likely coughing and expelling germs at a higher rate.

    In any event I’m all for temperature checks EVERYWHERE. I’ve gone to a number of casinos and other locations where they do temperature checks. If my doctor and dentist are doing it and prohibiting people with a fever (typically over around 100) then there is a good reason. That won’t block everyone that could transmit the virus but sure eliminates sick people which are at much higher risk of doing so.

    My complaint with this is that why should people be allowed to opt out or why would LAX not prohibit people with fevers from traveling? That seems to be the entire point of checking temperature. Unless this is just a very quick ramp up to prove the technology works and protocols for dealing with people with a fever are defined that is no use in checking temperature if you can’t force EVERYONE to do it and block those with a fever.

    Sorry there is no God-given right to travel (or access any public place) if you are sick during a pandemic.

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