Through the course of the pandemic, different nations, industries and businesses have striven to introduce a series of measures based on limiting the spread of Covid-19 and protecting people from contracting the virus. The aviation industry is no different, and news broke this week that major U.S. airlines would begin to collect information from international passengers in order to help with contact tracing.
Here’s what we know about this change in policy from the airlines, plus a look at other measures airlines have introduced to help try to keep passengers safer.
Airlines to Assist with Contact Tracing – Information for Travelers
It was revealed on Friday that a collection of major U.S. airlines are to begin to assist public health officials by asking for the personal information of passengers heading into the United States, in a bid to help speed up any potential contact tracing needs.
The news was revealed in a statement by Airlines for America, an industry trade group that represents some of the biggest airlines in the country. The airlines that were pointed out in the statement as being committed to collecting the personal information are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. Delta and United Airlines have already been collecting the information since December.
The information that the airlines will be asking of its US-bound international passengers is as follows:
- Legal name;
- Two phone numbers;
- Email address; and
- The address of where travelers will be staying in the U.S. or address of permanent residence in the U.S.
Submitting the information is voluntary, with passengers not obligated to pass on such information when asked to do so, but United Airlines revealed that most of its passengers have provided the information when asked.
The news may come as a slight surprise to observers of the aviation industry. Until now, airlines had long since fended off any government-led efforts to get them to gather such information, citing the difficulty of obtaining such information from those who purchase tickets through a third-party platform, and also stressed the time-consuming nature of the task and unsuitability of existing computer programs that airlines use.
The CEO of Airlines for America, Nicholas Calio, said that by voluntarily gathering such information, there was hope amongst carriers that – along with testing passengers entering the U.S. – it could lead to the government lifting the restrictions that are currently imposed on international travel.
How Airlines Are Keeping Travelers Safe
Long before they started collating passenger data, airlines have been hard at work trying to keep their passengers safe. All U.S. airlines require passengers to wear masks for the duration of their flights, in order to reduce the spread of Covid-19 amongst passengers. Some airlines have even gone a step further; Delta is one of the few airlines in the country that has decided to block the middle seat on its planes, increasing the social distancing of those on board, and has committed to doing so until April 30th at the minimum.
Some airlines have even gone the extra mile and vaccinated their crew, giving passengers peace of mind whilst flying. Etihad Airways was the first airline to operate with a vaccinated crew, whilst Singapore Airways closely followed behind them, becoming the second airline to do so.
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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