Budget airline becomes first US carrier to say it will screen flyers’ temperatures

May 7, 2020

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Frontier Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to say it would begin screening passengers and crews for their temperatures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Denver-based airline announced the move Thursday, saying it would take effect June 1. From that point forward, anyone with a temperature of 100.4 degrees and higher will be denied boarding.

“The health and safety of everyone flying Frontier is paramount and temperature screenings add an additional layer of protection for everyone onboard,” Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle said in a statement.

Frontier’s new policy comes as airlines around the world try to figure out how to address flyers’ safety concerns and get them to return to their flights. The global aviation industry is hemorrhaging cash as bookings have evaporated and those with existing reservations are asking for refunds.

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In the U.S., passenger levels are only about 5% of what they were at the same time last year.

Frontier becomes the first in the U.S. to announce plans for temperature screening, but it’s not the first airline to do so in North America. Air Canada said earlier this week that it would do the same type of temperature screenings, with the effort set to begin next Friday (May 15).

At Frontier, the carrier touted the temperature scans as part of a multi-layered process aimed at protecting those onboard its planes.

“This new step during the boarding process, coupled with face coverings and elevated disinfection procedures, will serve to provide Frontier customers an assurance that their wellbeing is our foremost priority and we are taking every measure to help them travel comfortably and safely,” Biffle added.

More: Flying after coronavirus: Health screenings in airports and emptier planes

Frontier already announced that it would begin requiring passengers to wear face coverings on all flights, a policy that takes effect Friday (May 8).

Frontier said that travelers have their temperatures taken prior to boarding by a “touchless thermometer.”

Those registering a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher will “be given time to rest, if the flight departure time allows,” and then offered a second check. If the second checked also registers 100.4 degrees or above, the customer will be denied boarding.

More: Which US airlines are blocking middle seats, requiring masks?

In that scenario, Frontier said a “gate agent will explain to the customer that they will not be flying that day for the health and safety of others” and will work with the customer to rebook for travel at a later date.

In addition to passengers, Frontier said it would hold its employees – both those at the airport and on the flight crews – to the “same standard.”

Even as Frontier is initiating the measure, Biffle said the carrier believes its something that the Transportation Security Administration should be doing instead of by individual airlines.

In Frontier’s statement, the Biffle said it would be ideal if passengers as they enter the airport.

That mirrors comments made by Southwest CEO Gary Kelly this week.

More:Frontier backtracks on physical distance fee following congressional uproar

“We’re urging the TSA … to begin temperature scans as part of the screening process at the checkpoints,” Kelly said Wednesday in an interview with “CBS This Morning.”

Frontier’s statement suggested both “the Transportation Security Administration and airport authorities may be working to lay that groundwork” now. 

“In the meantime,” the carrier said, “Frontier intends to conduct its own temperature screenings until such a plan is put in place.” 

Stay tuned …

Featured photo by Matt Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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