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Delta Becomes First Airline to Launch New Passenger Contact Tracing

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Delta is the first major US airline carrier to launch COVID-19 contact tracing to track data on the spread of the pandemic.

With COVID cases dramatically rising across America, many travelers are becoming hesitant to fly, causing the demand for travel to drop even further below what the industry had initially forecasted for the pandemic. 

Tasked with the challenge of assuring travelers that their safety and health are in good hands, airlines are relentlessly pursuing policies and strategies to encourage travelers to get back on planes. 

Accordingly, Delta Airlines recently announced a new initiative in which they will partner with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to begin voluntary COVID-19 contact tracing for Delta’s international travelers returning to the US. 

The initiative is the first in which a US airline carrier will carry out contact tracing of its passengers, albeit on a voluntary basis.  

How It Will Work

The goal of the program is to keep international travelers informed and alert of potential COVID-19 exposure.

Bill Lentsch, the Chief Customer Experience Officer for Delta Airlines echoed the benefits of the program, stating:

“We want customers to feel safe when they return to travel, and this voluntary program is another way we can provide additional reassurance to customers and employees alike.”

The program, starting on December 15, will request travelers returning to the US from foreign territory to voluntarily provide information for the following:

– Full Name
– Email Address
– Address in the US
– Primary Phone
– Secondary Phone

While the program participation is voluntary, Delta has announced that the submission of contact information will be mandatory for travelers of Delta's quarantine free travel program between the US and Italy. 

delta planes at airport gates

Benefits Of The Program

The objective of the initiative is to allow Delta to directly provide data to the CDC in order to reduce the time it takes to notify travelers who may have been exposed to COVID-19. 

Currently, if the CDC believes travelers on a flight may have been exposed to COVID, they need to request a passenger manifest from Delta, and then alert local health authorities to contact affected travelers.

The current process warrants valuable time, as the longer it takes to notify an affected travel, the longer the traveler would be unaware of the requirement of quarantining and can thus spread the virus.

Amderican Travelers waiting at airport

This was addressed by the airlines in their announcement, as they stated:

“This (contact tracing program) will give the CDC access to the data in moments, dramatically decreasing the time it takes to notify affected customers via local health departments. 

By connecting with customers more quickly and providing public health follow-up, health authorities can help reduce instances of potential exposure and slow the spread of the virus.”

While the CDC recently reported that traditional screening measures, such as temperature and symptom checking, are ineffective in combating COVID-19, contact tracing initiatives can provide an extra layer of protection and security from further exposure.

girl in mark temperature check at US airport

Traveler Safety Road to Recovery for Airlines

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the travel industry considerably, with the US Travel Association estimating that the total travel for 2020 will be 45% less than 2019 levels. 

While the closure of international borders is responsible for a significant reduction in travel, traveler concerns for health and safety would be considered as the major contributing factor to the decline.

Airlines understand that the road to recovery for their industry is to get travelers to become more confident in flying. 

Subsequently, the majority of adjustments that the industry made in policies this year, such as the mandatory wearing of masks and social distancing, are related to decreasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission from travel. 

Airlines are also sponsoring research to ratify the relatively low risk of catching COVID from flying.

As part of the airlines tactic to develop methods to dismount traveler concerns of flying, the contact tracing program is designed to provide further assurance to travelers. 

females beach masks

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


Friday 4th of December 2020