United was the first major airline to require passengers to complete a health assessment before getting on board one of their flights. At the time I argued that expecting people to give an honest assessment of their health isn’t going to keep anyone safe. Actually, I called these questionnaires the “Biggest Crock Ever!”
Americans have already shown we’re a bunch of people that only care about ourselves. Our unwillingness to wear face masks when in public shows that and the rest of the world has noticed and are keeping their borders closed to Americans.
After United started with this questionnaire, I guess consumer sentiment surveys have shown a majority of passengers think that these self-assessments will help to protect them from the coronavirus. Airlines For America, an airline lobbying group, recently announced that all of the major US airlines will now require passengers to self-certify their health before flying.
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines now or will require passengers to complete a simple health acknowledgment during the check-in process. Health acknowledgements typically cover three primary areas:
- Face Coverings – assurance that the passenger will bring a face covering and wear it at the airport, on the jet bridge and onboard the aircraft;
- Symptoms – assurance that the passenger is not experiencing a temperature (38C/100.4F or higher), coughing, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, loss of taste or smell, chills, muscle pain and/or sore throat; and
- Exposure – assurance that the passenger has not had close contact with someone who tested positive or had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
Health acknowledgments encourage passengers to make an evaluation of their own health prior to travel. Passengers who fail or refuse to complete the health acknowledgment may be deemed unfit to travel and each carrier will resolve the matter in accordance with its own policies. This measure is expected to remain in place throughout the COVID-19 public health crisis.
We already know that at least one airline will not kick you off a plane for not wearing a face covering and it can take several instances of you not following the rules to get banned from an airline.
I’m sure that really sick passengers will choose to or not be able to fly but what if you only have a slight cough that could be due to allergies? Are you not going to take a trip because of that if you’re not showing any other symptoms? I also have to question with all of the asymptomatic spread that’s going on right now and states trying to open up for business as usual, how could a passenger be possibly asked to assure that they have not had close contact with a person with symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
At that point, the airlines might as well just say no one is able to fly because they’re unable to be sure they’re infection-free. We know that’s not the reason for these guidelines. They’re to give everyone a false sense of safety while flying.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s unsafe to fly right now. I’m basing my unscientific and uninformed opinion on several things. First, I’d bet that if there was any major coronavirus cluster that could be traced back to an airline, it would be all over the news. If I’m hearing about every bar where 50 people have gotten sick, I’m sure that I’d hear if 10 people sitting near an infected person on an airplane had tested positive.
I also think that the airlines are telling the truth about the HEPA air filtration systems on airplanes being able to remove almost all viral particles in the circulating air. The real risk on a plane would be sitting near a sick passenger on a flight. This is why these self-certifications give people a sense of safety.
I’m not planning on flying anytime soon but for those who are, if the passenger next to you starts sneezing or coughing, I’d be asking to be moved to another seat immediately. If it’s before takeoff I’d ask if they could remove that passenger from the flight, even if they’ve ensured that they’re healthy on the pre-certification checklist.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary