U.S. Airlines Say They Can’t Do Airport Temperature Checks – But They Now Do Them For Canada Flights

Air Canada has been performing temperature checks on passengers for a couple of months. Since Thursday it’s mandatory for all airlines flying from Canada.

In the U.S. Frontier Airlines does this already (they began June 1). Other airlines have been lobbying to get the TSA to do it, so that it’s not their responsibility and so the government is on the hook for any cost. They’re said that if a passenger shows up at the airport with a fever and is denied boarding, they’re willing to refund the customer’s ticket. Requiring symptomatic people to come to the airport seems like a very bad idea. There has to be a better way to handle refunds.

What’s interesting is that U.S. airlines tell the U.S. government they cannot do temperature checks themselves (Frontier notwithstanding), but at the same time U.S. airlines are already doing temperature screening on their flights to Canada.

On Wednesday American Airlines issued a memo to its customer service teams at Dallas Fort-Worth, Chicago O’Hare, Washington National, Philadelphia and Charlotte.

Anyone 6 years old or older with a temperature of 100.4 degrees (38C) will be denied boarding, unless they have a medical certificate stating their fever isn’t related to COVID-19.

They will not be eligible to travel to Canada for 14 days, and they will not be refunded (promises in the U.S. about temperature checks notwithstanding), nor will American provide hotel, meals, or transportation.

American is careful to tell employees they do not want personally identifiable medical information in customer reservations.

Here’s the substance of the memo:

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Where are you hearing US airlines are saying they can’t? The reason they want TSA to perform the checks is to prevent the symptomatic passengers from spreading throughout the airport sooner rather than later.

    Also, I know at least one more airline is testing in China and ICN as well. They, on the other hand, have government support so they have different temperature thresholds in line with that country.

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